House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Give Welcoming Remarks to Congressional
Summit Addressing the Effects of HIV and Incarceration on Communities of
March 10, 2009 ~ Washington, DC ~ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will deliver
welcome remarks for the upcoming Congressional Summit, "Changing the
System: The Effects of HIV and Incarceration on Communities of Color." Co-
hosted by the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) and Congressman
Danny Davis, the event will take place Wednesday, March 11, from 2:00 p.m.
to 5:00 p.m., on Capitol Hill, in the Rayburn House Office Building.
Members of Congress with expertise in HIV/AIDS and incarceration issues are
scheduled to speak, including: Congresswoman Donna Christensen, Chair,
Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust; Congresswoman Maxine
Waters, Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, Committee on
Financial Services; Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Subcommittee on Labor,
HHS and Education, Committee on Appropriations; Congressman Robert Scott,
Chairman, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security,
In addition, well-known leaders in the fields of HIV/AIDS, mental health,
incarceration and substance abuse in communities of color will serve as
Summit panelists: Dr. Beny Primm, Founder/Director, Addiction Research and
Treatment Corporation (ARTC); Ravinia Hayes-Cozier, Director, Government
Relations and Public Policy, National Minority AIDS Council; and Honorable C.
Virginia Fields, CEO, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS.
Paul A. Kawata, Executive Director of NMAC says: "The Summit offers
leglislators and community leaders an incredible opportunity to address the
relationship between incarceration and rates of HIV and co-morbidities,
including hepatitis A, B, C; tuberculosis; and STDs, in communities of color.
Many of the solutions that have been presented in recent years to mitigate
HIV transmission in prisons and jails - needle exchange, condoms , discharge
planning, substance use rehabilitation - often present many challenges
The need for this Summit has never been greater. Over the past three
decades, the number of people incarcerated has grown over 500%, to more
than 2 million people. About 75% of these are Latino or African-American.
African-Americans alone are almost eight times more likely to be incarcerated
in local jails than whites, while women of color represent 60% of the total
female incarcerated population in this country. Women of color are more likely
to serve time than their male counterparts, and the incarcerated minority
female population is 35% more likely to be diagnosed with HIV disease,
hepatitis C and other STDs than the general population. Compared to
incarcerated men, incarcerated women were 3 times as likely to be living with
"NMAC is working with the new Administration to incorporate minority health
issues within its overall national health plan and in the formulation of the
National AIDS Strategy," says Ravinia Hayes-Cozier. "HIV does not exist in a
vacuum, but is directly related to the social and economic disparities including
those related to incarceration often found in communities of color."
The Summit also advances NMAC's work with the National People of Color
(POC) HIV/AIDS Working Group or "The Mighty 9" which includes, in addition
to NMAC: Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center, The Balm In Gilead, The
Black AIDS Institute, BIENESTAR, Latino Commission on AIDS, National
Association of People with AIDS, National Black Leadership Commission on
AIDS, and National Native American AIDS Prevention Center. The group met
this past March 5-6 in Washington, DC to address key Congressional leaders,
and participate in a White House briefing, about the disproportionate impact
of HIV/AIDS in communities of color.
"Addressing issues around incarceration in our communities is essential to
mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS among minorities, and will require a
multifaceted solution implemented at all levels of government, and across all
agencies, in cooperation with community leaders, people living with HIV/AIDS
and others," adds Hayes-Cozier.
The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) builds leadership within
communities of color to address challenges of HIV/AIDS. Since 1987, NMAC
has advanced this mission through a variety of programs and services,
including: a public policy education program, national and regional training
conferences, a treatment and research program, numerous publications and a
website: http://www.nmac.org/. Today, NMAC is an association of AIDS
service organizations providing valuable information to community-based
organizations, hospitals, clinics and other groups assisting individuals and
families affected by the AIDS epidemic. NMAC's advocacy efforts are funded
through private funders and donors only.