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U.S. Representative Maxine Waters Applauds Release of NMAC Report as Another Opportunity to Focus National Attention on HIV/AIDS Crisis in the African-American Community

July 21, 2009
Press Release

U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (CA-35) applauded the release of a new report by the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) that focuses on addressing the rampant spread of HIV/AIDS in the African-American community.  The report outlines a number of strategies designed to expand successful HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and testing programs; cut down on IV drug use and the transmission of HIV through shared needles; develop a comprehensive strategy to address the transmission of HIV in prison settings; reduce the stigma faced by African-American men who have sex with men; and increase funding for affordable housing for individuals and families living and dealing with HIV/AIDS to provide stability.  Today, Rep. Waters released the following statement:

"I want to thank NMAC for the important work it has done to put this report together and to further advance efforts to reduce the disturbingly high instances of HIV infection among African Americans and the disproportionately high number of African Americans being killed by this disease."

"For too long, this epidemic has been ignored by the mainstream media.  With every new report, every new finding, and every event that draws attention to this plight, it is my hope that journalists finally find something that will spark an interest in covering this story with the urgency it deserves.  We need them to tell the stories of the mothers, daughters, husbands and sons who have lost their battles with HIV/AIDS.  America needs to know that nearly 70 percent of the new HIV/AIDS cases among U.S. women are African American.  They need to know that HIV/AIDS is the number one cause of death for African-American women between the ages of 24 and 34."

"For years, I have worked to bring attention to the destructive impact HIV/AIDS has had on the African-American community and foster the development of solutions.   As Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus during the 105th Congress, I worked with my colleagues and our allies in Congress to establish the Minority AIDS Initiative, and since it was founded, we have worked tirelessly to not only secure funding for this program, but to increase it in order to provide expanded outreach, education, and services to minority communities. During the Congressional funding process for 2007 I have circulated a letter asking to increase funding for the Initiative by 53 percent."
 
"NMAC's report provides essential information that will help develop strategies to prevent new HIV infections and significantly decrease the number of African Americans who will die because of HIV/AIDS.  Again, I am hopeful that the media will seize the opportunity to circulate this story and finally give the HIV/AIDS epidemic and its effect on the African-American community the type of attention that will generate national outrage at the way this disease has been allowed to progress.  And then, maybe, this issue will finally be elevated to a national priority and maybe a comprehensive campaign will finally be launched to eradicate HIV/AIDS in the African-American community and throughout the nation."

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About U.S. Representative Waters: In 1998, as Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Rep. Waters worked with community groups, the Clinton White House, and other CBC members to create the Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI).  The MAI provides grants to community-based organizations and other health care providers for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs serving African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American and Native-American communities.  Over the last eight years Rep. Waters has worked to successfully secure more than $2.7 billion for the program, and this year she has asked Congress to increase funding for the MAI by 53% over the 2006 level to $610 million.  Rep. Waters is currently the Co-Chair of the CBC's AIDS Task Force and has used her position to educate the public about HIV/AIDS prevention and advocated public policy to stop the spread of the disease.  She is anticipated to be the next Chair of the House Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity in the 110th Congress.