Congresswoman Barbara Lee Recognizes National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

For Immediate Release

Contact: Ricci Graham
(510) 763-0370

Oakland, CA–Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) released the following statement acknowledging National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day:

“Almost three decades after the first cases of AIDS were reported, HIV is still running rampant in the United States.  By and large, African Americans are bearing the brunt of the HIV/AIDS epidemic accounting for more than half of all new HIV infections in 2008.

“All told, African Americans represent 48 percent of all people currently living with HIV/AIDS, despite only representing about 12 percent of the population.  In 2006 African American women accounted for 61 percent of all new HIV cases among women, and they were 15 times more likely to be infected than white women. Among African American men with HIV, young men who have sex with men are the most at risk, accounting for 63 percent of all such new cases.

“In honor of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and this year’s theme ‘It Takes a Village to Fight HIV/AIDS,’ I have reintroduced a resolution (H Res 51) that recognizes and supports the goals and ideals of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Among several objectives, it encourages state and local governments, public health agencies and the media to emphasize and publicize the importance of this day among the African American community, and all communities, and supports the implementation of President Obama’s National AIDS Strategy.

“HIV/AIDS is devastating our communities. That is why we must take action now to raise awareness and educate people on how to protect themselves from this deadly disease. I applaud the organizers of this worthwhile effort and look forward working to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS both in this country and abroad.

“With the release of the President’s National AIDS Strategy last year, and the return of the International AIDS Conference to the United States in 2012, now is the time to come together to halt the spread of this deadly disease. Most immediately we must address the urgent crisis in funding for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which has left over 6,000 people on waiting lists for life saving drugs across ten states.

“As we move to finalize federal spending for 2011, and as we look toward the release of the President’s 2012 budget next week, I call on my colleagues and the President to reject any attempt to balance the budget on the backs of those who are living with or most vulnerable to this disease.“

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was created in 2001 by a coalition of five national non-profit organizations to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS among the African American community.  Celebrated each year on February 7th, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day encourages African Americans and all Americans to “Get Educated! Get Tested! Get Involved! Get Treated!” For more information on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day or how to get tested visit http://www.blackaidsday.org/or www.hivtest.org.