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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

In Honor of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Waters Reintroduces the Stop AIDS in Prison Act

February 6, 2015
Press Release

 

 

In Honor of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Waters Reintroduces the Stop AIDS in Prison Act

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ranking Member of House Financial Services Committee, reintroduced the Stop AIDS in Prison Act yesterday in honor of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which will be celebrated tomorrow, February 7th. The bill is now H.R. 768 and has 23 original cosponsors.

 

"National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a day to remember that African Americans have been severely and disproportionately impacted by HIV and AIDS; blacks have the highest rate of new HIV infections and the highest death rate due to AIDS," said Congresswoman Waters.  "National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is also a day to remember that we need to take the threat of HIV/AIDS seriously and confront it in every institution of our society – that includes our nation's prisons." 

 

African Americans comprise a disproportionate share of the country's incarcerated population. Compounding this problem, the rate of confirmed AIDS cases in prisons is 2.5 times higher than the rate in the general population according to the data from the Department of Justice. The Stop AIDS in Prison Act addresses this issue by requiring the Federal Bureau of Prisons to develop a comprehensive policy to provide HIV/AIDS prevention, testing, and treatment for inmates in federal prisons. 

 

"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.

 

In a previous Congress in 2009, the Stop AIDS in Prison Act passed the House of Representatives by a voice vote (H.R. 1429). 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, the President's National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which was released in 2010, requires the Bureau of Prisons to take steps to address the effects of HIV/AIDS within the prison population.

 

Congresswoman Waters has been a leader of congressional efforts to combat 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.  This initiative provides grants to community-based organizations for HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, testing, and treatment programs serving racial and ethnic minorities.  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.  "Last year, I circulated a letter to leaders of the House Appropriations Committee requesting $610 million for the initiative in the coming fiscal year, and 60 Members of Congress signed my letter.  While we did not receive a substantial increase in funding, we were successful in protecting this critical program from harmful budget cuts.  Because of our efforts, the Minority AIDS Initiative received $425 million in fiscal year 2015 despite the prevailing atmosphere of fiscal austerity."

 

"African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS," said Congresswoman Waters.  "We must do everything we can to promote HIV awareness and testing among these communities and provide access to care and treatment for those who have been affected."

 

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