Congresswoman Waters Joins Colleagues And Black Ministers On Health Care Reform Discussion
She Details Her Longtime Work to Fight the Disease
Washington – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) joined other Members of Congress today in welcoming over 50 prominent African American ministers to Capitol Hill. The ministers came to Congress to advocate for health care reform and to urge support for H.R. 1964, the National Black Clergy for the Elimination of HIV/AIDS Act. This marks the first time that national African American religious leaders have coalesced around combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic, an issue Congresswoman Waters has long championed. Also participating in the meeting were representatives from the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS.
“Since the discovery of the HIV/AIDS epidemic over 25 years ago, we have watched it wreak havoc on minority communities, disproportionately affecting them in comparison to their makeup of the American population” said Congresswoman Waters. “Almost 50 percent of new HIV diagnoses are in the African American community alone, significantly impacting our community. I am encouraged that the ministers have come here mobilized, educated, and ready to act to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in our community and in all communities.”
Congresswoman Waters has made combating HIV/AIDS one of her top priorities in Congress and has been a leading supporter of funding for prevention and treatment. As Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, in 1998 Congresswoman Waters created the Minority AIDS Initiative, which 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. The Initiative received $402.9 million last year, and for Fiscal Year 2011 Congresswoman Waters and 56 of her colleagues have requested a record $610 million to ensure that the Initiative has the resources needed to combat the AIDS epidemic in these communities.
Congresswoman Waters introduced The Stop AIDS in Prison Act, which the House of Representatives passed last year. The bill requires the Bureau of Prisons to test all inmates for HIV upon entering prison and then test them again prior to release, unless the inmate opts-out of taking the test, and requires HIV/AIDS prevention education for all inmates and comprehensive treatment for those who test positive. She also introduced the Routine HIV Screening Coverage act last year, which would require health insurance plans to cover routine HIV tests under the same terms and conditions as other routine health screenings.
“I applaud the ministers for coming here today to advocate both for efforts to fight AIDS and for comprehensive health care reform legislation. Indeed, these issues are linked, and Americans who are affected by HIV/AIDS will benefit considerably if health care reform is passed” said Congresswoman Waters. “It is imperative that we keep a holistic approach to combating the disease as we work to advocate and care for all affected and at-risk populations.”
House of Rep: Office of Maxine Waters, 2344 Rayburn Building, Washington, DC 20515 United States
Contact: Michael Levin
Phone: (202) 225-2201