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Monday, March 4, 2013

Bill Supporting Goals and Ideals of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

A bill to Support the Goals and Ideals of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was introduced in the House of Representatives on Feb. 6, 2013. 

The first annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was organized on February 23, 2001., February 7th  of each year is now recognized as National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced H.RES.59, “Supporting the Goals and Ideals of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day,”
Forty-three other members of the House co-sponsored this Bill.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that in the United States, more than 1,100,000 people are living with HIV, and 21 percent do not know they are infected.
The bill resolved that the House of Representatives take the following actions:
“Resolved, That the House of Representatives-- 
(1) supports the goals and ideals of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day; 
(2) encourages State and local governments, including their public health agencies, and media organizations to recognize and support such day, to publicize its importance among their communities, and to all encourage individuals, especially African-Americans, to get tested for HIV;
 (3) commends the work of AIDS service organizations and community and faith-based organizations that are providing effective, evidence-based, prevention, treatment, care, and support services to people living with and vulnerable to HIV/AIDS;
 (4) supports the implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and its goals to reduce new HIV infections, increase access to care and improve health outcomes for people living with HIV, reduce HIV-related disparities and health inequities, and achieve a more coordinated national response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic;
 (5) supports reducing the impact of incarceration as a driver of new HIV infections within the African-American community;
 (6) supports reducing the number of HIV infections in the African-American community resulting from intravenous drug use;
 (7) supports effective and comprehensive HIV prevention education programs to promote the early identification of HIV through voluntary routine testing, and to connect those in need to clinically and culturally appropriate care and treatment as early as possible;
 (8) supports appropriate funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, care, treatment, research, and housing, including community based approaches to fight stigma, discrimination, and homophobia; and
 (9) encourages a comprehensive prevention and treatment strategy that empowers public health workers, educators, faith leaders, and other stakeholders to engage their communities to help decrease violence, discrimination, and stigma towards individuals who disclose their sexual orientation or HIV status, and normalize voluntary testing practices.”
The Bill Supporting  the Goals and Ideals of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day acknowledged that:
• In 2010, approximately 47,129 people were diagnosed with HIV in the United States, about 1 person infected with HIV every 11 minutes;
• African-Americans represented 44 percent of all people living with HIV in the United States in 2009;
• In 2010, nearly 21,000 African-Americans were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, contracting HIV at a rate 7.9 times as high as the rate in Whites;
• Although African-American teenagers (ages 13 to 19) represent only 15 percent of all teenagers in the United States, they accounted for 69 percent of new HIV cases reported among teenagers in 2010; 
• New HIV infections among African-American men who have sex with men (MSM) ages 13 to 29, increased 48 percent from 2006 through 2009; 
• Young gay men of color bear a disproportionate burden of the epidemic, with the majority of new HIV infections in 2010 occurring among 13- to 24-year-old African-American MSM, accounting for 45 percent of new infections among African-American MSM and 55 percent of all new infections among young MSM; 
• In 2010, African-American women accounted for 68 percent of new HIV infections among women and had an infection rate that was 20 times higher than that of White women; 
• Among African-American men, the leading transmission category of HIV infection in 2010 was sexual contact with other men, followed by heterosexual contact and intravenous drug use; 
• In 2008, HIV/AIDS prevalence among men in prisons was 1.4 percent; 
• In 2010, African-American males were imprisoned at a rate nearly 7 times that of White males; 
• Among African-American women, the leading transmission category of HIV infection is heterosexual contact, followed by intravenous drug use; 
• The CDC notes that socioeconomic issues impact the rates of HIV infection among African-Americans, and studies have found an association between higher AIDS rates and lower incomes; 
• African-Americans are diagnosed with AIDS later than their non-minority counterparts, are confronted with barriers in accessing care and treatment, and face higher morbidity and mortality outcomes; 
• The CDC estimates that among persons whose diagnosis of AIDS had been made during 1997 to 2004, African-Americans had the poorest survival rates of any racial or ethnic group, with 66 percent surviving after 9 years compared with 67 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives, 74 percent of Hispanics, 75 percent of Whites, and 81 percent of Asians and Pacific Islanders; 
• Approximately 619,400 people have died of AIDS in the United States from the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic through 2012, and African-Americans account for approximately 40 percent of such deaths; 
• In 2007, HIV was the ninth leading cause of death for all African-Americans, and the third leading cause of death for both African-American men and African-American women between the ages of 35 to 44; 
Congresswoman Lee in speaking  (video of Congresswoman Lee speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives regarding the Support  the Goals and Ideals of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day bill) on the bill, made the following statement regarding HIV and the disproportional impact on minority populations:
“In the United States African-American remain disproportionally effected by aids. This is especially true of young gay and bi-sexual men of color. While Afrian-American teenagers represent 15 % of teenagers the United States, they account for 69% of all cases reported among teenagers ins 2010. The same is true of teenagers The same is true of African-American women who accounted for 68% of all new cases among women. Despite the progress we’ve made in recent years, this Congress has already made unconscionable budget cuts to critical programs that many families and communities rely on. A new analysis by the Foundation for AIDS Research and the National Minority AIDS Council shows that if budget sequestration were to take effect, communities of color would be disproportionately impacted, including more than 6,500 individuals who [would] immediately lose access to HIV treatment. We must reject these cuts and expand effective prevention, care and treatment programs so that we can once and for all stamp HIV and AIDS off the face of the Earth.”
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) issued a press release in support of the bill.
Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL) called for continued legislative support for programs that assist people living with HIV/AIDS.
According to the The Record a person who is age 20 and is diagnosed with HIV or AIDS today can expect to live 50 years, due to groundbreaking advances in treatment since the discovery of the virus 30 years ago.
However in the United States,  47,500 new cases of HIV infection are diagnosed each year.
The State of New Jersey is hit especially hard with African-Americans disproportionally infected.
 According to the New Jersey Department of Health, African-Americans make up 14 percent of the population but constitute 53 percent of the people living with HIV or AIDS. 
As stated in The Record article:
“Even when there’s good news — a 21 percent decline in the number of new cases nationally among black women in a recent three-year period — it is muted by other statistics — the rate of infection is still 20 times higher for African-American women than white women.”
In addition to Congressman Lee, other co-sponsors of the bill were:
Mr. McDermott, Ms. Sewell of Alabama, Mr. Himes, Ms. Roybal-Allard, Ms. Castor of Florida, Mr. Watt, Ms. Wasserman Schultz, Mr. Grijalva, Ms. Hahn, Ms. Schwartz, Ms. McCollum, Ms. Slaughter, Mr. Smith of Washington, Mr. Lewis, Ms. Jackson Lee, Ms. Bordallo, Mr. Butterfield, Mr. Cummings, Mrs. Beatty, Ms. Moore, Mr. Conyers, Mr. Clay, Mr. Cicilline, Mrs. Christensen, Mr. Hastings of Florida, Mr. Al Green of Texas, Ms. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, Mr. Johnson of Georgia, Ms. Wilson of Florida, Mr. Richmond, Ms. Frankel of Florida, Ms. Waters, Ms. Fudge, Mr. Bishop of Georgia, Mr. Rush, Mr. Danny K. Davis of Illinois, Mr. Ellison, Ms. Norton, Mr. Jeffries, Mr. Rangel, Mr. Honda, Mr. Serrano, and Ms. Edwards).


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