Congresswoman Waters Continues Aggressive Fight Against HIV/AIDS
Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-35) announced the introduction of the Routine HIV/AIDS Screening Coverage Act, a bill to require health insurance plans to cover routine HIV/AIDS tests under the same terms and conditions as other routine health screenings.
"Routine HIV/AIDS screening will allow thousands of African Americans and other infected individuals to find out about their infection, begin life-extending treatment, and avoid spreading the virus to others," said Congresswoman Waters.
The Congresswoman made her announcement on the Floor of the House of Representatives during debate on H.Con.Res. 35, a resolution supporting the goals and ideals of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which will be celebrated this Wednesday, February 5, 2007. Congresswoman Waters urged her colleagues to support H.Con.Res. 35, which subsequently passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 396 to 0.
"I urge my colleagues to support National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and I urge all Americans to educate themselves, act responsibly, get involved, and get tested for HIV/AIDS," said the Congresswoman.
The Routine HIV/AIDS Screening Coverage Act is one of several legislative initiatives Congresswoman Waters plans to pursue in the 110th Congress. She also plans to reintroduce the Stop AIDS in Prison Act, a bill to require routine HIV/AIDS screening of all federal prison inmates upon entry and prior to release from prison. The bill would also require HIV awareness education for all inmates and comprehensive treatment for those inmates who test positive.
Finally, Congresswoman Waters will continue to advocate to expand the Minority AIDS Initiative, which she established in 1998, with the support of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Clinton Administration. The Minority AIDS Initiative provides grants for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs that serve minority communities and enables health care providers to expand their capacity to serve these communities. The initiative received an initial appropriation of $166 million in fiscal year 1999 and was funded at slightly less than $400 million in the most recent spending cycle.
"This year, I am calling for at least $610 million in funding to expand the Minority AIDS Initiative and redouble our efforts to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which has been especially devastating to African Americans and other communities of color," said the Congresswoman.