Congresswoman Barbara Lee Reintroduces Legislation Marking National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), co-chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus, reintroduced legislation marking April 10th as National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD).

Inadequate HIV education and low testing rates mean that many young people may not know their HIV status, or what services and prevention methods are available to them. Socio-economic status impacts access to care and stigma may discourage many young people from seeking information or care that could help them lead healthy lives. 

“Young people living with HIV/AIDS deserve the care that will offer them the opportunity to lead a healthy and productive life,” said Congresswoman Lee. “In order to provide these opportunities, we need to end the stigma around HIV/AIDS through education and medical care. With young people making up a greater percentage of new transmissions, this effort is imperative. If we want the next generation of leaders to succeed, we need to ensure access to information, treatment, and prevention on HIV/AIDS.” 

Young people living with HIV are less likely than any other group to be retained in care. In 2018, young people made up 21% of all new transmissions of HIV in the US and its dependent areas.  Young Black and Latino people made up 78% of those new cases.

“In an era in which the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated racial and economic disparities across the world, Congress must reaffirm its goal of creating a just health system,” said Congresswoman Lee. “By passing this bill, we can take a step towards combating the stigma around HIV/AIDS, improving health inequities across racial and economic lines, and creating an AIDS-free generation by the end of the decade.” 

This legislation calls on state and local governments to recognize NYHAAD and improve access to treatment and prevention resources. It also seeks to root out and eliminate misinformation on HIV/AIDS by promoting up-to-date, medically accurate information and identifying scientifically inaccurate or discriminatory HIV laws. It would also support an increase in funding for programs that help young people living with HIV/AIDS. This includes access to medication, testing, and clinical care.

Endorsed by: Advocates for Youth, Black AIDS Institute, HealthHIV, National Coalition for LGBT Health, The Center for HIV Law and Policy, National Black Justice Coalition, Global Network of Black People working in HIV, NASTAD, Sero Project, The "DIRT" Advocacy Movement, Equality California, AIDS United, Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, HIV + Hepatitis Policy Institute, AIDS Alabama, Positive People Network Inc, National Coalition of STD Directors, Positive Women's Network-USA, Presbyterian HIV Network, PHEWA, Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), HIV Medicine Association, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Original Cosponsors: Reps. Danny K. Davis, Frederica S. Wilson, Terri A. Sewell, Bobby L. Rush, Yvette S. Clarke, Ro Khanna, Paul Tonko

For the full text of the bill, click here.