Pelosi Floor Speech in Observance of World AIDS Day

Dec 1, 2015
Press Release

Contact: Drew Hammill/Evangeline George, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the House floor today in observance of World AIDS Day.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  Thank you for the recognition. 

“Mr. Speaker, I come to the Floor today to mark World AIDS Day, and I do so in great pride in following my colleague, Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, who spoke on the Floor about the 60th anniversary of what happened in Montgomery – when Rosa Parks, with great courage, refused to give up her seat on the bus.  The courage of that woman and all of those who supported her has made such an incredible difference in our country, and it is indeed related to what I want to say about HIV and AIDS. 

“Because of Rosa Parks' courage – and many of us had the privilege of knowing her when she worked for John Conyers and when we honored her here in the House – and so proud that we have a statue to Rosa Parks in the Capitol of the United States – when we think of her and the courage she had which led to the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and that Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act led to our having a much more diverse Congress of the United States.  From there came our Congressional Black Caucus, the Hispanic Caucus, the Asian Pacific Caucus and that Black Caucus directly related to Mr. Conyers, who was a founding Member, and Rosa Parks, who was an inspiration, was responsible for so much change and the leadership in our Congress on so many issues springs from the Congressional Black Caucus – some say the ‘conscience of the Congress.’

“And so, the relationship from Rosa Parks to the Caucus to now, we're observing the 25th anniversary of World AIDS Day – the link is Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who has been such a champion in the Congress on this subject, and we take great pride in the accomplishments in her capacity as a Member of Congress but also a representative to the United Nations General Assembly.

“Each day, World AIDS Day is observed internationally to reflect the progress that has been made and reaffirming our determination to banish AIDS to the annals of history.  We recognize that achieving an AIDS-free generation requires our relentless, energetic and undaunted commitment to testing, treatment, and finding a cure.  The World AIDS Day theme this year, ‘The Time to Act is Now,’ challenges us to act with the urgency that this global epidemic demands.

“AIDS, as we know, and the HIV Virus, is a ferocious and resourceful disease.  It's a resourceful virus, ever mutating to escape our efforts to destroy it and, therefore, we have to be ferocious and resourceful and adaptable in our effort to succeed to end HIV.  We must bring bold thinking and deep commitment to testing, treatment, again, and the search for a cure, vaccine to prevent.

“President [George W.] Bush with his PEPFAR initiative took a big advance in how we can help prevent the spread of AIDS in the rest of the world.  He and Mrs. [Laura] Bush with their Pink Ribbon/Red Ribbon Initiative to link cervical cancer prevention with HIV testing and treatment in Africa is a remarkable initiative.  So, we salute the bipartisanship – we supported, of course, President Bush with PEPFAR.  We wanted it bigger, he wanted it strong, and there we were with something that has saved millions of lives and given hope to people.

“I visited some of the clinics in Africa where PEPFAR is being administered and some of the people I met there said, ‘I would have never come to be tested before because there was no reason.  I had no hope there would be any remedy or any maintaining of a quality of life that would have encouraged me to risk the stigma of saying I was HIV infected.’  So, again, it's all about the people.

“New York today – Bono will be observing the 10th anniversary of ONE [Campaign], an initiative, (RED) ONE and (RED), initiatives that have set out to alleviate poverty, eradicate disease – a heavy focus on HIV/AIDS.  We know the work of the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation and what they have done on this issue, particularly in India.  And I, today, also wish I could be in San Francisco, where amfAR will be saluting the work at University of California, San Francisco in HIV AIDS by establishing a new initiative there.  So, just mentioning a few other observances of World AIDS Day.

“But it's happening throughout the world, and you go back a number of years, when I came to Congress, we were going to two funerals a day.  It was the saddest thing.  And now, we're going to weddings and we're helping people make out their wills and all the rest because they have a longer life ahead.  The maintenance of life, the quality of life is really important, but we do want a cure.  I said, the 25th anniversary of World AIDS Day – I meant to say the 25th anniversary of the Ryan White Care Act.  That young man whose name is something that is iconic to all of us left us, but his mother carries on the tradition and it is – has made such a tremendous difference.  My colleague, Henry Waxman, who is no longer in the Congress, but still a champion on HIV/AIDS, was so instrumental in leading us to passing that legislation.

“So it's been bipartisan, it's global, it's personal, it's urgent that we continue, so that one day 50 years from now, people will say, ‘What was AIDS?  What was that?’  And we'll say – the books will show that it was a terrible, terrible tragedy that befell the world population, regardless of status, of wealth, of gender, of race and something that is now buried in a museum somewhere as a terrible memory but not a part of our future. 

“So, again, as we observe World AIDS Day, may we all wear our red ribbons in sympathy with those who have lost their lives, sadly, before the science took us to a better place on this and that is what we're counting on – research and science to take us to a better place on this and also, with the enthusiasm, determination and relentlessness of so many people throughout the world to make HIV and AIDS a horrible memory, again, but not part of our future.

“With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time."

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