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New Science Brings Urgency to National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2012

"We are our brother and sister's keeper," - Barbara Lee

February 7, 2012 - Washington, D.C. - Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued the following statement on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2012:

"The theme of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2012 is 'I am My Brother's/Sister's keeper.'  Never before has it been so critical that we share with our brothers and sisters the knowledge and tools to fight this epidemic.  While we have made tremendous strides over the past thirty years, HIV remains a crisis in African American communities - threatening the well-being of our neighborhoods, the health of our families, and the lives of our brothers and sisters.

"African Americans continue to face the most severe burden of HIV and AIDS of all racial groups in the nation. While blacks represent approximately 14% of the population, they account for nearly half of new infections, according to the CDC. A Black woman in the U.S. is 15 times more likely to be living with HIV than a white woman her own age. Recent CDC data showed an alarming 48 percent increase in new HIV infections among young, black men who have sex with men (MSM) 13 to 29 years old from 2006 to 2009. Additionally, Southeastern states have been particularly hard hit by the epidemic.

"These statistics serve as a grim reminder of the work yet to do in fighting this epidemic. Black people are disproportionately affected by the weaknesses in our health system. More likely than other Americans to lack health insurance coverage or essential health information, African Americans are more likely than other racial or ethnic groups in this country to be diagnosed late in the course of HIV infection, less likely to be linked to care, less likely to be prescribed life-preserving and prevention-promoting antiretroviral drugs, and more likely to die of HIV-related causes.

"However, at this moment of time, an extraordinary opportunity is in front of us. There is new momentum to do what it takes to bring AIDS to an end. Powerful tools - available for use in both HIV-positive and HIV-negative individuals - have the proven ability to dramatically reduce the spread of HIV. We as a country need to take steps to aggressively promote HIV testing and deliver antiretroviral drugs to those who need them. That includes steps to lower drug prices and to eliminate waiting lists for AIDS drug assistance. We need to ensure that every young person in the U.S. is provided with comprehensive sex education. And we also must stop taking stigmatizing, counterproductive actions that drive people away from needed services and repeal outdated laws that target people living with HIV.

"After more than 30 years of struggle, our collective progress reflects the heights that can be reached when all stakeholders work together to achieve common goals. Now is not the time to stop and we look forward to working with our colleagues until an end of AIDS becomes the reality of our lifetime."

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Follow Barbara Lee on Twitter @RepBarbaraLee

H.R. 2954 - Health Equity and Accountability Act (Lee)
The Health Equity and Accountability Act provides the tools necessary to ensure effective, prioritized action is taken against healthcare disparities. Specifically, this legislation improves and guides federal efforts in the following vital areas: data collection and reporting; culturally and linguistically appropriate health care; health workforce diversity, improvement of health outcomes for women, children and families; mental health; high impact minority diseases (hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cancer); health information technology; emboldened accountability and evaluation; and, addressing social determinants of health.

H.R. 3053 - REPEAL Act (Lee)
The REPEAL Act would provide states with incentives and support to reform outdated criminal laws that target people living with HIV.

H.R. 3324 - Real Education for Healthy Youth Act (Lee)

The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act would help schools implement and expand age-appropriate sex education programs that are medically accurate and evidence based; train teachers and educators to effectively educate teenagers in order to reduce unintended pregnancy and the transmission of STDs; and expand sex education programs at colleges and universities.

Source: http://lee.house.gov/press-releases/new-science-brings-urgency-to-national-black-hivaids-awareness-day-2012/

Contact:
Kristal DeKleer (202) 225-1882


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