Congressional Tri-Caucus Introduces Health Equity Bill

Congressional Tri-Caucus Introduces Health Equity Bill
On Thursday, September 15, the Congressional Tri-Caucus, comprised of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2011. Expanding on the foundation laid by the Affordable Care Act, it includes provisions that among other things, would increase resources for improved data collection and reporting, promote culturally and linguistically appropriate health care, foster diversity among health care providers, and remove barriers to care that impact minority communities.

Read NMAC’s press release on the introduction of the Health Equity and Accountability Act here.

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Legislators Launch Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus
Also on September 15, Congressional leadership launched the bipartisan Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus (formerly the Congressional Task Force on International HIV/AIDS). Co-chaired by Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Trent Franks (R-AZ), the bipartisan Caucus will examine methods by which the United States can maintain global leadership in the response to this 30 year epidemic. With an estimated 56,000 new HIV infections each year, the scale of this epidemic requires the continued engagement of all segments of society, including all levels of government.

Read NAMC’s press release on the formation of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus here.

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Congress Continues to Debate 2012 Budget
It is budget season in Washington, DC and Congressional committees are debating various bills that would fund the federal government for the 2012 fiscal year. The Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies passed legislation totaling $158 billion that would maintain funding at 2011 levels for all HIV/AIDS specific programs, with and additional $15 million allocated for the nations AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, which continue to face a dire funding shortage. The equivalent subcommittee in the House of Representatives has not yet managed to agree on a funding package, although legislation has been proposed that totals $20 billion less than that which is working its way through the Senate.

NMAC will closely monitor all budget negotiations that may impact our nation’s response to HIV/AIDS and update our constituents as issues arise.

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NMAC Co-Sponsors Briefing on Impact on HIV/AIDS on Latinos
On Tuesday, September 20, NMAC partnered with the Latino Commission on AIDS, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Metropolitan Latino AIDS Coalition (MLAC), the Hispanic Federation, and the National Latino AIDS Action Network (NLAAN) to educate Congress about the impact of HIV/AIDS among Latinos/Hispanics. In the lead up to National Hispanic HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, it is critical to highlight the disproportionate impact the epidemic has had and continues to have on this community and what can be done to address this disparity.

Latinos represent just16 percent of the U.S. population according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but accounted for 20 percent of new HIV infections in 2009 and 42 percent of those were diagnosed with AIDS within 1 year of testing positive. According to new estimates released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2009, infections among Latino gay and bisexual men exceeded those among African American women for the first time. The CDC has also reported that AIDS is the fourth leading cause of death among Hispanic men and women aged 35-44, driven by a rate of new HIV infections more than double that of non-Hispanic whites.

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National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day
Sunday, September 18 marked the fourth annual National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAAD). Sponsored by The AIDS Institute, NHAAAD is meant to highlight the complex issues facing prevention, treatment and care for aging populations, emphasizing the need for expanded prevention and research targeting Americans over 50, especially as it relates to understanding the impact of HIV/AIDS on the aging process. According to the CDC, Americans over the age of 50 account for approximately 17 percent of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses, 36 percent of all people living with AIDS, 24 percent of all AIDS diagnoses and 45 percent of all deaths of people living with AIDS.

Read NMAC’s press release commemorating NHAAAD here.

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About NMAC
The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) builds leadership within communities of color to address challenges of HIV/AIDS. Since 1987, NMAC has advanced this mission through a variety of programs and services, including: a public policy education program, national and regional training conferences, a treatment and research program, numerous publications and a website: http://www.nmac.org/.

Today, NMAC is an association of AIDS service organizations providing valuable information to community-based organizations, hospitals, clinics and other groups assisting individuals and families affected by the AIDS epidemic. NMAC’s advocacy efforts are funded through private funders and donors only.

For more information, contact NMAC directly at (202) 483-NMAC (6622) or communications@nmac.org.

About NMAC on the Hill
NMAC wants to make sure that our constituents are up to date on the latest activities in Congress and around Washington, DC that affect HIV/AIDS programs, funding, and the broader movement. To accomplish this, we will be sending regular updates on legislation, meetings and other happenings in the nation’s capital to keep you informed on what matters to our community.

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