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WASHINGTON, DC – In recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and the escalating health crisis caused by the disease in the United States, House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) today released the following statement:
“I commend my Colleague, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, for bringing forth the resolution we consider today calling attention to the importance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
“While we are well aware of the tremendous strides that have been made in the treatment and care of those with HIV/AIDS, despite these advances far too many Americans still do not have access to necessary health care and far too many Americans still are still becoming infected with HIV every year. And of those who are sick and becoming infected a staggering proportion are African Americans, especially African American women.
“In 2003 alone, African Americans accounted for 50% of all new HIV infections, and African American women represented 67% of all new AIDS cases among women. In my state of Maryland, which has the third highest AIDS incidence rate among the states, 82 per cent of those living with HIV/AIDS are African American.
“Clearly, we cannot rest on what has been accomplished. Resources for care and prevention must be increased. We must continue to de-stigmatize the disease through increased awareness and help make sure those who are particularly vulnerable to HIV infection have information and access to all effective forms of prevention.
“Unfortunately, the President’s budget request essentially flat funds the Ryan White HIV/AIDS programs, while it proposes increases for the global fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Clearly, those increases are greatly needed and welcome. But we must continue to vigorously fight the pandemic here at home as well, and education and testing efforts such as those encouraged by this resolution are a vital part of the battle.”