Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce a resolution in support of the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012), which takes place from July 22, 2012, through July 27, 2012, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. This year's conference is of particular significance, as it represents the return of the International AIDS Conference to the United States after the 1987 HIV travel and immigration ban was lifted in 2010. My resolution supports a stronger international response to HIV/AIDS that seeks to foster greater scientific and programmatic collaborations around the world in order to prevent the transmission of HIV; increase access to testing, treatment, and care; and improve health outcomes for all people living with HIV/AIDS.
There are currently 33.4 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, and more than 25 million have died of AIDS since the first cases were reported in 1981. In the United States, more than one million people are living with HIV/AIDS and approximately 50,000 individuals become newly infected with the virus each year. Furthermore, one in five individuals living with HIV is unaware of their infection and societal stigma remains a significant challenge, underscoring the need for greater education about HIV/AIDS and access to testing. Significant disparities also persist across diverse communities and populations with regard to incidence, access to treatment, and health outcomes, particularly for men who have sex with men (MSM), racial and ethnic minorities, women, and young people.
Since 1985, the now biennial International AIDS Conference has brought together the world's leading scientists, public health experts, policymakers, community leaders, and persons living with HIV/AIDS in order to address the major issues facing the global response to HIV/AIDS; evaluate recent scientific developments and share knowledge; and facilitate a collective strategy forward. AIDS 2012 is organized by the International AIDS Society (IAS) and expected to convene more than 20,000 delegates from nearly 200 countries, including 2,000 journalists. The theme of AIDS 2012, ``Turning the Tide Together,'' embodies both the promise and urgency of utilizing recent scientific advances in HIV/AIDS treatment and biomedical prevention; continuing research for an HIV vaccine and cure; and scaling up effective, evidence-based interventions in key settings in order to change the course of the HIV/AIDS crisis.
AIDS 2012 is a tremendous opportunity to further strengthen the role of the United States in global HIV/AIDS initiatives; re-energize the response to the domestic epidemic within the current context of significant global economic challenges; and focus particular attention on the devastating impact that HIV is having on different communities across the country. My resolution supports the goal of bringing renewed awareness of, and commitment to, addressing the HIV/AIDS crisis in the United States and abroad. In particular, it recognizes that formulating sound public health policy; protecting human rights; advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights; addressing stigma, poverty, and other societal challenges; and ensuring accountability are key to overcoming HIV/AIDS. It also encourages the ongoing development of innovative therapies and advances in clinical treatment for HIV/AIDS in the public and private sectors.
Mr. Speaker, continued commitment by the United States to HIV/AIDS research, prevention, and treatment programs is crucial to protecting global health. I urge my colleagues to support my resolution, which recognizes the importance of the XIX International AIDS Conference in the global effort to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic and create an ``AIDS-free generation.'' We are closer to a future without HIV/AIDS than ever before. Together with the international community, we have the means to bring an end to HIV/AIDS once and for all. What we need now is leadership and solidarity.