Congresswoman Waters Recognizes National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), a longtime leader in the fight to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS both in the United States and around the world, released the following statement today in recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day:
"Today marks the 13th annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This is a day set aside to increase HIV awareness and enhance prevention, testing and treatment among African-Americans, and also to recognize the progress that has been made in the ongoing fight to combat this horrible illness.
HIV/AIDS has had a disturbing impact on African-American communities in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-Americans make up just 14% of the U.S. population, but account for 44% of all new HIV infections, as well as almost half of all people living with HIV. Approximately one in 16 African-American men will be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetime, as will one in 32 African-American women.
I will continue my efforts to expand the Minority AIDS Initiative, which I established as Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1998 to expand HIV awareness, testing, and treatment among racial and ethnic minorities, who are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS. The initiative received $416 million in fiscal year 2012, the same amount as in fiscal year 2011 and more than any previous year.
I supported the reauthorization and expansion of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS treatment programs. I also plan to reintroduce the Stop AIDS in Prison Act (H.R. 3547), which requires a comprehensive plan to provide HIV testing, treatment and prevention for inmates in Federal prisons. Finally, I am working to expand access to routine HIV testing by reintroducing the Routine HIV Screening Coverage Act, which requires health insurance plans to cover HIV tests as routine preventive health procedures.
"We cannot turn a blind eye to an epidemic that has devastated the African-American community and threatened the lives and well-being of so many Americans. We must make it a top priority to stop the spread of HIV infection and get those infected to treatment early. I urge my friends, colleagues and African-Americans around the world to remain vigilant in fighting this disease. There is more work to be done, and each of us must do all that we can to eradicate HIV/AIDS worldwide."