Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) today joined with her colleagues in unanimous support of the Ricky Ray Hemophilia Relief Fund Act. The legislation would authorize a $750 million fund to provide $100,000 in compassionate assistance to individuals who became infected with HIV from contaminated blood clotting products. The legislation now moves to the U.S. Senate for consideration. Rep. Pelosi's statement is excerpted below.
The life of the boy who gave his name to this legislation should remind all of us of the many different tragedies and demonstrations of courage and compassion the AIDS epidemic has brought us. In his short life, Ricky witnessed the prejudice and fear which surrounded AIDS particularly in its first decade, but which is still all too common today. He and his family watched their home burn down because neighbors were afraid of his illness. His family struggled with the tremendous financial burdens of providing for a child with hemophilia and AIDS. And Ricky's parents saw their son pass away as they confronted the limits of treatments to fight HIV disease.
Each of these aspects of Ricky's life are important to remember today: the prejudice, the crushing financial burden, the hope for cures which have not yet come, and the inspiring courage and compassion of this young man, his family and friends. This was Ricky's story, and it is the story of thousands of other people, many who have died, many who are living today with HIV and AIDS.
The resources that Congress can provide will not solve the tragedy of AIDS for Ricky Ray and others like him, but they will help individuals, families, and communities begin to recover from the calamity that has befallen them.
Whether the federal government acted appropriately to protect blood clotting products in the 1980's is not the issue today. At issue now is providing assistance to individuals and families who have been forced to confront a personal and financial crisis brought by two debilitating diseases.
The federal government must do many things to respond to the AIDS epidemic. It must protect the nation's blood supply, provide prevention interventions, fund research to find a cure and a vaccine, and support health care and needed services for those who are ill. But, as with any other major catastrophe, the federal government also must provide
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