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Congresswoman Waters Commemorates World AIDS Day

December 1, 2016
Press Release

Congresswoman Waters Commemorates World AIDS Day


December 1, 2016


Washington, D.C. -- Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee and a Congressional leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS, issued the following statement in recognition of World AIDS Day:


“AIDS was first discovered 35 years ago. Since that time, about 700,000 Americans and tens of millions of people around the world have died from this devastating disease.  World AIDS Day is a day to honor those who have died, but it is also a day to show our support for those who are living with HIV/AIDS and to recommit ourselves to ending this epidemic once and for all.


I have been a consistent advocate for HIV/AIDS response efforts throughout my tenure in Congress.  In 1998, I spearheaded the establishment of the Minority AIDS Initiative, which has significantly expanded HIV/AIDS awareness, screening, and treatment efforts among racial and ethnic minorities and reduced the tragic AIDS disparities affecting minority communities in the United States.


Unfortunately, minorities continue to be severely and disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS. Minorities represent the majority of new HIV diagnoses, people living with HIV/AIDS, and deaths among people with HIV/AIDS. African Americans account for 44% of new HIV diagnoses, and Latinos account for 23%. Indeed, the rate of new diagnoses among African Americans is about 8 times that of whites, and the rate among Latinos is about 3 times that of whites.


Obviously, the Minority AIDS Initiative is still an essential tool in our nation’s arsenal for fighting this epidemic.  Earlier this year, I sent a letter to congressional appropriators requested an appropriation of $610 million in fiscal year 2017 to expand this critical initiative, and 75 of my congressional colleagues signed my letter.


I have also been a leading proponent of efforts to increase HIV/AIDS research and expand access to prevention, testing, and treatment for all those affected by the disease throughout our society. In March of this year, I co-led a letter urging congressional appropriators to increase funding for several domestic HIV/AIDS programs, including the Ryan White care and treatment programs, HIV prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and HIV/AIDS research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  This letter was signed by 86 of my congressional colleagues.


In addition, I introduced a resolution encouraging primary care physicians to become actively involved in HIV/AIDS awareness, testing, treatment, and referral services. Finally, I reintroduced the Stop AIDS in Prison Act, which requires the federal Bureau of Prisons to develop a comprehensive plan to provide HIV/AIDS prevention, testing, and treatment for inmates in federal prisons. 


Clearly, there is much more work to do. We must do everything we can to promote widespread HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, and screening and make treatment more accessible and affordable. Let us rededicate ourselves to stopping the spread of this devastating disease, caring for those who are infected, and finding a cure.”