Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) today joined President Clinton and members of the Congressional Black Caucus for a White House announcement of a new minority HIV/AIDS initiative. "HIV/AIDS is spreading fastest in communities of color. The Congressional Black Caucus and Chairwoman Maxine Waters should be commended for creating a plan that begins to address this very serious problem," Pelosi said. Pelosi also commended the President for his support for the initiative.
Rep. Pelosi made the initiative a top priority in this year's appropriations process, and she was instrumental in including $110 million in new funding for AIDS prevention and treatment in minority communities in the Omnibus bill passed by Congress. "We urgently need a new injection of resources to meet the prevention and treatment needs in these communities. We must never accept the inequities we now see in AIDS treatment outcomes," Pelosi said.
The initiative unveiled by the President totals $156 million. It includes:
A Crisis Response Team: HHS field teams will assess existing prevention and treatment services for racial and ethnic minorities and develop innovative strategies to meet the needs of the community;
Enhanced HIV/AIDS Prevention Efforts In Racial And Ethnic Minority Communities: Funding for Centers for Disease Control, and for substance abuse treatment programs for African-American and Hispanic women and their children living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS;
Reducing Disparities In Treatment And Health Outcomes For Minorities With HIV/AIDS: New funding will help minorities get access to cutting edge HIV/AIDS drug treatments and the range of primary health services needed to treat this disease.
Rep. Pelosi noted that Medicaid expansion for HIV positive asymptomatic individuals is the next critical step in meeting the treatment needs of minority communities. "Medicaid must play an expanded role in HIV care," Pelosi said. "With the advent of powerful new therapies, it is unconscionable that people cannot become eligible for Medicaid until they have lost the opportunity for early and effective treatment of HIV." This year Rep. Pelosi organized a letter from 68 members of Congress calling on Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Donna Shalala to expand Medicaid for people with early HIV infection.
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