Budget cuts to HIV prevention programs in King County, Washington—which includes Seattle—could derail efforts to reduce rising cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among men who have sex with men (MSM), reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

“We're kind of wondering whether we'll be able to do even what we're mandated to do by the law,” said Bob Wood, MD, director of HIV/AIDS Control for Public Health-Seattle & King County.

The county received $3 million from the state for HIV prevention programs, but it's anticipating a $2 million cut to the funds next year in an effort to reconcile Governor Chris Gregoire's $2.6 billion budget deficit.

These cuts are being made as HIV cases among MSM continue to rise in King County. According to a recent report, HIV diagnoses have been increasing about 8 percent annually since 2001, while the number of cases linked to high-risk heterosexual contact and intravenous drug use have been consistent or dropping during that period.

Health officials have also reported rising incidence of syphilis and chlamydia, infections that increase the risk of HIV transmission.