29 Years of Leadership on HIV/AIDS
“No one has fought harder than Nancy Pelosi… Millions of people all over the world owe their lives to Nancy and the bipartisan coalition that fought to contain the AIDS epidemic, not just here in America, but in the poorest parts of this planet.” – Bono, June 2012
Since her first day in Congress, combating HIV and AIDS has been a priority for Congresswoman Pelosi, stating in her first speech in Congress on June 9, 1987, that “…now we must take leadership of course in the crisis of AIDS. And I look forward to working with you on that.”
Armed with the lessons of San Francisco’s model of community-based care, Congresswoman Pelosi worked to accelerate development of an HIV vaccine, expand access to Medicaid for people living with HIV, and increase funding for the Ryan White CARE Act, the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), the Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative and other research, care, treatment, prevention and search for a cure initiatives vital to people living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS.
In 1989, Pelosi, along with Rep. Jim McDermott and then-Rep. Charles Schumer introduced the AIDS Opportunity Housing Act, which led to the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) initiative – an essential lifeline for people living with HIV and AIDS.
Pelosi participated in some of the earliest meetings for the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, sowing her own patch for the flower girl in her wedding who died of AIDS, and helping to secure the needed permits from the National Park Service so that the AIDS memorial quilt could be displayed on the National Mall.
In 1996, Pelosi successfully spearheaded the passage of legislation designating San Francisco’s AIDS Memorial Grove, located in Golden Gate Park, as a national memorial. Pelosi has celebrated a number of anniversaries representing San Francisco volunteering at the Grove, which itself celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011.
To address the international pandemic, as Ranking Democrat on the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, Pelosi led the efforts to boost U.S. funding for our bilateral AIDS initiatives that were in desperate need of international attention and vastly under-funded.
In 2000, she led the effort in the House Appropriations Committee to provide the first U.S. contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria and worked to pass amendments on the House floor increasing U.S. bilateral AIDS funding and debt forgiveness for the world’s poorest countries in the Jubilee Year of 2000.
During her time as Speaker of the House, and working with Presidents Bush and Obama, U.S. funding for global health initiatives doubled from less than $4 billion a year in fiscal year 2006 to over $8 billion in fiscal year 2010. That funding level includes more than doubling bilateral funding for global AIDS and doubling the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund.
In 2008, the House of Representatives led by Speaker Pelosi boosted our global AIDS initiatives by passing the Lantos-Hyde U.S. Global Leadership Act against HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria that authorized $48 billion over five years from FY09-FY14. This huge increase was $35 billion more than the previous five years and $20 billion more than President Bush requested.
Also, during the four years she served as Speaker of House, domestic discretionary funding for HIV/AIDS was increased by over half a billion dollars from fiscal year 2006 to fiscal year 2010. In that time, we lifted the ban on federal funding for syringe exchange and the travel ban for people with HIV/AIDS – fights Pelosi had been waging since her first years in Congress.
Pelosi spearheaded the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which has provided significant benefits for those with HIV/AIDS by dramatically increasing access to Medicaid for people with HIV, improving Medicare Part D for people participating in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), ending discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, and ending annual and lifetime caps on health benefits.
These initiatives have saved the lives of millions and provided testing, counseling and better care to some of the most vulnerable men, women, and children around the world.