Medical, Undergraduate Students Lobby Congress in Support of AIDS Legislation
More than 200 medical and undergraduate students from more than 40 states representing the Students Mobilizing Against the Crisis of AIDS Coalition on Monday met with 250 members of Congress and their staff in support of swift passage of legislation to fund President Bush's proposed AIDS initiative. Prior to the meetings, the coalition held a press conference during which students, flanked by several AIDS quilt panels, chanted, "Our Future, Our Crisis, Fight Global AIDS" (Physicians for Human Rights release, 4/7). The event was the largest gathering of its kind on Capitol Hill, and the press conference and rally were scheduled to feature speeches from Garth Graham, board member of Physicians for Human Rights; Minesh Shah, medical and public health student at the University of Illinois-Chicago and fellow of the American Medical Student Association; Joia Stapleton Mukherjee, medical director of Partners in Health; and Cara Henry, a member of Amnesty International's Women's Rights Steering Committee (Physicians for Human Rights release, 4/3). AIDS "is our future and it is our crisis. We are now all AIDS doctors. This is an unprecedented coalition of healers committed to ending the most villainous health crisis known to human kind," Shah said, adding, "Congressman Hyde's AIDS comprehensive bill should be backed immediately and the Senate should follow suit" (Physicians for Human Rights release, 4/7). The House International Relations Committee last week approved 37-8 an amended bill (HR 1298) that would authorize $15 billion over five years to fight global AIDS. The bill would allocate $3 billion a year for five years for HIV/AIDS, with up to $1 billion in fiscal year 2004 going to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/3). Graham said that since President Bush announced his plan to fund a global AIDS initiative, 500,000 people have died from AIDS-related diseases, close to one million people have been infected with HIV and more than 100,000 children have been orphaned. Irish rock star and AIDS advocate Bono said in a statement read by Graham, "Together we will fight this disease and we will not stop until humanity is freed from this scourge" (Physicians for Human Rights release, 4/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.