United States Must Continue To Do More in Fight Against AIDS Internationally, Domestically, Rep. Barbara Lee Says
Although Congress's passage of and President Bush's signing of the global AIDS bill (HR 1298) is a "significant benchmark" in the fight against HIV/AIDS internationally, "we can and must do more," Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), a cosponsor of the legislation and a member of the House International Relations Committee, writes in a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece. "[A]s we move forward to attack the spread of AIDS within our own country and around the world, we must not forget that AIDS is still on the move, and we have a long way to go before we catch up," Lee says. Although the $15 billion over five years that is authorized in the AIDS bill "may seem like a lot of money," more funds are needed to cover prevention programs and care and treatment for HIV-positive individuals worldwide, she says. In addition, Lee writes that the United States needs to provide more aid to countries that are "in the next wave" of the epidemic, including countires such as China, Russia and India. "But most especially, we must turn our attention to our own domestic AIDS crisis," she says, adding that the country's "wealth and scientific knowledge" has not been enough to stem the spread of the virus or provide medical and social services for HIV-positive people in the United States. Lee notes that HIV/AIDS is "devastating communities of color," as AIDS-related death is the leading cause of death among African Americans ages 25 to 44 and the third leading cause of death among Latinos in the same age group. Despite these "horrific" numbers, the United States has not increased funding for domestic AIDS programs, Lee says, adding, "We cannot allow this trend to continue." Lee writes, "At the same time, we cannot delude ourselves into believing that a single act or initiative can stop AIDS," concluding, "It will take a sustained effort that matches funding levels to actual needs, targets dollars to those who are most vulnerable, and at the same time ensures universal access to prevention, care and treatment services" (Lee, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.