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Congresswoman Maxine Waters Observes National Clinicians HIV/AIDS Testing and Awareness Day

July 21, 2011
Press Release

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-35) today celebrated National Clinicians HIV/AIDS Testing and Awareness Day and encouraged the nation's health care workers to be tested for HIV

"Doctors, nurses, and other clinicians play a vital role in providing access to HIV/AIDS awareness, testing, treatment, and referral services, and in encouraging patients to get tested for HIV.  I urge all clinicians to become actively involved in HIV/AIDS services in their communities, and I urge all clinicians to take an HIV test and set a good example for their patients to follow," said Congresswoman Waters, who has been tested for HIV herself in order to demonstrate the ease and importance of HIV testing.

Congresswoman Waters introduced a resolution, H.Res. 362, in honor of the fourth annual National Clinicians HIV/AIDS Testing and Awareness Day, and 24 Members of Congress cosponsored her resolution.  The resolution urges physicians, 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. 

"There are over one million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States today, and one out of every five of them does not know it.  By encouraging their patients to be tested for HIV, doctors can enable infected individuals to access appropriate medical care and begin taking action to avoid spreading the virus to others," said Congresswoman Waters.  

Congresswoman Waters is sponsoring several other initiatives in the 112th Congress to promote HIV/AIDS awareness, testing and treatment. 

1. 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.  HIV/AIDS is more prevalent in minority communities.  The Initiative has received approximately $400 million per year since fiscal year 2003.  On May 20, 2011, Congresswoman Waters wrote 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 needed to combat the AIDS epidemic in these communities.  A total of 56 Members of Congress signed the Congresswoman's letter.

2. Preventing the spread of AIDS:  Congresswoman Waters plans to reintroduce the Stop AIDS in Prison Act (H.R. 1429 in the 111th Congress), which was passed by the House of Representatives on March 17, 2009, but was not taken up by the Senate prior to adjournment last year.  This bill requires the Federal Bureau of Prisons to test all prison inmates for HIV, unless the inmate opts out of taking the test.  The bill also requires HIV/AIDS prevention education for all inmates and comprehensive treatment for those who test positive. 

3. Encouraging HIV screening:  She also 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.