The following is a statement from the National Minority AIDS Council Director of Legislative & Public Affairs Kali Lindsey:
Washington, DC – “In his State of the Union speech tonight, President Obama once again demonstrated his commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS by urging Congress and the nation to continue and renew its efforts to ‘realiz[e] the promise of an AIDS-free generation, which is within reach.’ With legislation authorizing the two signature federal programs providing HIV/AIDS services both at home and abroad set to expire this year, his statement is a call to action for America and its legislators.
“Research and policy have aligned like never before, making it possible to envision an end to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. But to accomplish this, America must continue to provide the leadership that members of both parties have historically shown in the fight to make AIDS this century’s polio. This includes continued funding for PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. It also means continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act in a way that meets the needs of those living with and vulnerable to chronic and communicable diseases, like HIV.
“But as President Obama made clear tonight, the nation must do more to address the root causes of persistent and devastating economic and health disparities that fuel both social inequity and HIV vulnerability. Simply expanding access to health insurance coverage is not enough. On its own, an insurance card is worth little more than the paper on which it is printed. We must ensure that those communities that have historically been locked out of the health care system have the support and security to navigate that system.
“This means continued funding for traditional supportive and health completion services under the Ryan White Program, but it also means tackling immigration reform and expanding programs aimed at lifting people out of poverty. It means ensuring that every American has access to employment and housing security, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression. It means ensuring that every young person has access to confidential, evidence-based and culturally appropriate sexual health education. And it means continued and expanded investment in medical research, which is essential both for job creation and finding an HIV cure and vaccine.
“NMAC applauds the President’s call to address these issues, and thanks him for once again reminding the nation that an AIDS-free generation is indeed within reach. We stand ready to work with him, Congress and his administration in achieving that vision and ensuring not only an end to this epidemic, but also a future in which we live up to the basic premise of this nation – that each life, regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or nation of origin, has inherent value and deserves access to economic and health security.”
Contact: Kyle Murphy, (202) 483-6622 ext. 3330