Dec 1, 2011
Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), a Congressional leader in the fight to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS through increased awareness, testing, treatment, and funding, reintroduced the Stop AIDS in Prison Act, in honor of World AIDS Day. The Stop AIDS in Prison Act requires the federal Bureau of Prisons to develop a comprehensive policy to provide HIV/AIDS prevention, testing, and treatment for inmates in federal prisons. The bill has the support of 33 original cosponsors.
“The Stop AIDS in Prison Act will help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS among prison inmates, encourage them to take personal responsibility for their health, and reduce the risk that they will transmit HIV/AIDS to other people in the community following their release from prison,” said Congresswoman Waters.
The Stop AIDS in Prison Act (H.R. 1429 in the 111th Congress) was passed by the House of Representatives during the 111th Congress by voice vote. However, the Senate did not complete action on the bill prior to adjournment.
“AIDS is spreading in our nation’s jails and prisons. The Department of Justice reported last year that the rate of confirmed AIDS cases in prisons is 2.5 times the rate in the general population. We need to take the threat of HIV/AIDS seriously and confront it in every institution of our society. That includes our nation’s prison system,” said Congresswoman Waters.
Congresswoman Waters is sponsoring several other initiatives in the 112th Congress to promote HIV/AIDS awareness, testing and treatment.
1. Promoting HIV screening: On November 17, 2011, Congresswoman Waters sent a letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, urging her to include routine annual screening for HIV in the Essential Health Benefits package under the Affordable Care Act. About 20% of persons living with HIV/AIDS in the United States do not know they are infected. Routine HIV screening would allow them to learn of their status and begin treatment. A total of 54 Members of Congress signed the Congresswoman’s letter.
2. Holding health insurance plans accountable: Congresswoman Waters plans to reintroduce the Routine HIV Screening Coverage Act (H.R. 2137 in the 111th Congress). This bill requires health insurance plans to cover routine HIV tests under the same terms and conditions as other routine health screenings and therefore enables more Americans to be tested for HIV. This bill had 46 cosponsors representing both political parties in the 111th Congress.
3. Expanding the Minority AIDS Initiative: Congresswoman Waters continues her efforts to expand the Minority AIDS Initiative, which she established as Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1998 to expand HIV awareness, testing, and treatment among racial and ethnic minorities, which are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS. On May 20, 2011, Congresswoman Waters sent a letter to congressional appropriators requesting $610 million for the Minority AIDS Initiative for fiscal year 2012 to ensure that the Initiative has the resources necessary to combat the AIDS epidemic in these communities. A total of 56 Members of Congress signed the Congresswoman’s letter
4. Encouraging involvement by clinicians: On July 21, 2011, Congresswoman Waters introduced a resolution, H.Res. 362, in honor of the fourth annual National Clinicians HIV/AIDS Testing and Awareness Day. The resolution urges doctors, nurses, dentists and other clinicians nationwide to become actively involved in HIV/AIDS awareness, testing, treatment, and referral services. It also urges individuals to get tested for HIV and educate themselves about the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. This resolution was cosponsored by 24 of her colleagues in Congress.