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Congresswoman Barbara Lee

Representing the 13th District of California

HIV/AIDS

Congresswoman Lee is leading the charge on ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Since entering Congress in 1998, Rep. Lee has authored or coauthored every major piece of legislation relating to HIV/AIDS, both domestically and internationally.

She has supported issues related to HIV/AIDS ranging from support for prevention education programs and eliminating discrimination and stigma, to intensifying research efforts to find a cure, to scaling up treatment and reducing the price of life-enhancing drugs. The Congresswoman has fought to expand and improve access to medical care for everyone – and she is working to address the disproportionate impact of HIV on communities of color.

Congresswoman LeeCongresswoman Lee is dedicated to achieving the goal of an AIDS-free generation, and she will continue to advocate for legislation that fosters this outcome. 

Priorities:

  • REPEAL HIV Discrimination ACT: Today, 32 states and 2 U.S. territories have criminal statutes based on outdated information regarding HIV/AIDS. These laws rely upon antiquated assumptions regarding HIV transmission and exacerbate the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS diagnoses. Congresswoman Lee’s legislation, the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act, would allow federal and state officials and community stakeholders to work together to review and modernize laws that impact people living with HIV and  AIDS.
  • Support for Expanding HIV/AIDS Prevention, Treatment and Care Around the World: Congresswoman Lee supports a strong commitment to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria and U.S. bilateral efforts through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Over the last decade, these programs have saved millions of lives through prevention, treatment, and health system development. However, there is still much more to be done. Congresswoman Lee believes ongoing investments to support these efforts are now more important than ever – if Congress backs away now, the gains of the past decade will disappear.
  • Support for the National AIDS Strategy: Congresswoman Lee supports increases in domestic spending for the Minority AIDS Initative, the Ryan White Care Program, and improving outcomes in the care continuum for people living with HIV and AIDS. She has strongly advocated for the creation of a National AIDS Strategy with clear goals and timelines to provide accountability and to implement high-impact prevention programs, particularly within communities of color.
  • Real Education for Healthy Youth Act: Congresswoman Lee firmly believes that all students should have access to potentially life-saving health and sex education programs. Congresswoman Lee’s legislation, the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, would authorize grants for comprehensive sex-education programs so that all youth can make educated decisions about their health. This legislation, which is inclusive of LGBT students, would provide students with information to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, and would end federal spending on ineffective, medically inaccurate sex-education programs.  

Accomplishments:

Congresswoman Lee

  • Co-founder and Co-chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus: In 2011, Congresswoman Lee cofounded the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional HIV/AIDS caucus. The caucus works to spread awareness in Congress and is dedicated to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS domestically and internationally, as well as ensuring that individuals living with the disease have the support they deserve. Along with her colleagues, Congresswoman Lee has worked to highlight and advance policy initiatives that improve the quality of life for those living with HIV/AIDS and supported medical research to develop a vaccine and a cure.
  • Original co-sponsor of the 2003 President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), co-author of the 2008 reauthorization and the 2013 PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act: In 2003, Congresswoman Lee was an original co-sponsor of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the largest investment in history dedicated to addressing a single disease. Prior to that, Congresswoman Lee, and the Congressional Black Caucus, led efforts to urge President Bush to address the alarming global AIDS crisis. Since its inception, PEPFAR has been extraordinarily successful in halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, providing more than 6 million people with life-saving treatment, offering testing and counseling to nearly 60 million, and providing care and support for more than 5 million orphans. In 2013, Congresswoman Lee coauthored the PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act, which strengthens the program and reaffirms the U.S. commitment to stopping the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  
  • Co-author of 1999 Legislation Creating the Framework for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria: In 1999, Congresswoman Lee coauthored landmark legislation, H.R. 3519, the World Bank AIDS Prevention Trust Fund Act, providing one of the earliest investments for the AIDS crisis in Africa, and served as the framework for the creation of the Global Fund. Today, the Global Fund’s approach to addressing the AIDS pandemic is considered a model in effective international cooperation and public-private partnership. Since 2003, Congresswoman Lee has helped secure renewed funding for the Global Fund and preserve the gains made by the program in addressing AIDS,  Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
  • Ending the HIV Travel and Immigration Ban: Congresswoman Lee introduced legislation in 2007 that would lift the ban that prevents people living with HIV/AIDS from traveling or immigrating to the United States, and was instrumental in ending the discriminatory ban in January, 2010. The ban, which was first instated by President Reagan in 1987, relied upon outdated science to separate families and increase the stigma surrounding HIV. The repeal of the ban was an important, and long overdue, step towards fairness in immigration policy, and the return of the International AIDS Conference to the United States in 2012
  • Commissioner on the Global Commission on HIV and the Law: Congresswoman Lee served as the only US member of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, an independent body formed by the United Nations to investigate the effects of the law on the spread of HIV. In 2012, the commission published its final report: “HIV and the Law: Risk, Rights and Health” which can be found here.
  • Participation in the 2012 International AIDS Conference: In 2012, Congresswoman Lee had the honor of welcoming the International AIDS Conference to Washington, DC. The International AIDS Conference brought together leaders in science, international development, entertainment and public policy to highlight recent developments and develop a path towards ending the AIDS epidemic. Since being elected to Congress in 1998, Congresswomen Lee has participated in every International AIDS Conference. To see video of Congresswoman Lee at the 2012 conference, click here.

More on HIV/AIDS

Apr 10, 2015 Press Release
Each year, on April 10th, Congress marks National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This year’s theme is “Engaging Youth Voices in the Response to HIV & AIDS.”
Mar 20, 2015 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Since 2007, National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is observed each year on the first day of Spring.

The day began as a way to increase local and global awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on American Indian and Alaska Native people.

Mar 10, 2015 Press Release

Oakland, CA – Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a co-chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus, released this statement marking National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day:

“In recent years, we have made great strides in providing HIV/AIDS education, counseling, testing and treatment to women and girls, both at home and abroad.

However, women continue to be underserved as we work to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Feb 7, 2015 Press Release
Congresswoman Barbara Lee released the following statement marking the 15th annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Dec 23, 2014 Press Release

Oakland, CA – Congresswoman Lee released this statement on news that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will recommend ending the lifetime blood donor deferral for MSM in favor of a one year deferral from last sexual contact:

“I am pleased to see the FDA take a step in the right direction by re-examining the outdated and discriminatory policy regarding blood donations from the MSM community.

Yet, I remain disappointed that their recommendation continues blood donation deferrals without scientific justification.

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