Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), a Congressional leader in the fight to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS in the United States and around the world through increased awareness, screening, research, treatment, and funding, announced progress on two of her HIV/AIDS initiatives in the 112th Congress.
Congresswoman Waters introduced the Routine HIV Screening Coverage Act (H.R. 4470) on April 19th, and more than 20 Members of Congress have agreed to cosponsor the bill over the past two weeks. The bill would require health insurance plans to cover routine HIV tests as preventive health screenings without imposing co-payments or deductibles. It was endorsed by The AIDS Institute.
"There are over 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States today, and about 20% of them do not know they are infected," said Congresswoman Waters. "Routine screening will allow individuals living with HIV/AIDS to find out about their infection, begin life-extending treatment, and avoid spreading the virus to others. I urge my colleagues in Congress to pass this bill immediately."
Congresswoman Waters also urged the Appropriations Committee to provide an appropriation of $610 million for the Minority AIDS Initiative, which supports HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, testing, and treatment among racial and ethnic minorities, which are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS.
"Racial and ethnic minorities have been severely impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic," said Congresswoman Waters. "Robust funding of the Minority AIDS Initiative is critical to empower these communities to stop the spread of HIV and treat those who have been infected."
On March 15, 2012, Congresswoman Waters sent a letter to congressional appropriators requesting $610 million for the Minority AIDS Initiative for fiscal year 2013, and 59 Members of Congress signed her letter. The Minority AIDS Initiative was established under Congresswoman Waters' leadership in 1998, during her tenure as Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. The Initiative received $416 million in fiscal year 2012, the same amount as in fiscal year 2011 and more than any previous year.
Congresswoman Waters has also sponsored several other HIV/AIDS initiatives, including a bill to stop the spread of HIV among Federal prison inmates and a resolution to promote the involvement of primary care physicians in HIV/AIDS awareness and screening.