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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

Congresswoman Waters Reintroduces the Stop AIDS in Prison Act

April 4, 2017
Press Release

Congresswoman Waters Reintroduces the Stop AIDS in Prison Act

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee and a Congressional leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS, reintroduced the Stop AIDS in Prison Act today (H.R. 1882).  This bill 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 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.

 

There is no current information regarding the incidence of HIV/AIDS in federal prisons.  However, the Department of Justice reported in 2009 that the rate of confirmed AIDS cases in prisons was 2.5 times higher than in the general population.  The Department of Justice also reported that 1.5% of male inmates and 1.9% of female inmates were HIV positive or had confirmed AIDS. 

 

“We need to take the threat of HIV/AIDS seriously and confront it in every institution of our society,” said Congresswoman Waters. “That includes our nation’s prison system.”

 

In 2009, the Stop AIDS in Prison Act (H.R. 1429 in the 111th Congress) passed the House of Representatives by a voice vote. However, the Senate did not complete action on the bill prior to adjournment.

 

“I have introduced this bill several times over the years, and while it has never made it to the President’s desk, it has focused attention on the problem of HIV/AIDS in our nation’s prisons,” said Congresswoman Waters.  “As a result, President Barack Obama’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which was released in 2010, required the Bureau of Prisons to take steps to address the effects of HIV/AIDS within the prison population.”

 

Congresswoman Waters has also been a leader of congressional efforts to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS among racial and ethnic minorities.  In 1998, she worked with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and officials in the Clinton Administration to establish the Minority AIDS Initiative.  That initiative provides grants to community-based organizations for HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, testing, and treatment programs serving minority communities.  The initiative received an initial appropriation of $156 million in fiscal year 1999.  Funding for it now amounts to more than $400 million per year.

 

“I am proud that the Minority AIDS Initiative has strong support in Congress,” said Congresswoman Waters.  “Every year, I circulate a letter to leaders of the House Appropriations Committee urging robust funding for the initiative in the coming fiscal year. Because of our efforts, the Minority AIDS Initiative received $427 million in fiscal year 2016. This year, 79 of my colleagues signed my letter. I am therefore confident that we can continue to ensure robust funding for this critical program, despite the prevailing atmosphere of fiscal austerity.”

 

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