Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-Miramar) made the following statement in observation of the 18th Annual National HIV Testing Day, a joint initiative between the National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to promote HIV testing:
"Although HIV/AIDS knows no borders, race, or gender, it has taken a particularly devastating toll on South Florida. Since 2008, areas in my Congressional district have experienced the highest rate of HIV-infection per-capita in the nation, with new HIV infections rising by 25 percent over the past year and new AIDS cases also increasing significantly. Furthermore, HIV/AIDS continues to have a disparate impact on certain groups, including men who have sex with men (MSM) and racial and ethnic minorities.
"It is clear that we must do more to encourage HIV testing and end the pervasive stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. The unfortunate fact remains that many individuals and communities do not talk about HIV/AIDS. We cannot hope to eliminate the stigma and reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS if we do not break the silence.
"HIV/AIDS can happen to anyone, but we have the power to stop HIV and create an AIDS-free generation. It all begins with getting tested for HIV to find out your status and using this knowledge to take better care of yourself, your loved ones, and your community. Regular HIV testing has been proven to save lives and reduce new infections. Together with effective, evidence-based policies that address barriers to HIV testing and access to treatment and care, we know that we can overcome HIV/AIDS."
Congressman Hastings is a member of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus and continues working to support policies and legislation that address barriers to HIV testing and access to care. In the 112th Congress, he introduced H.R. 1774, the Increasing Access to Voluntary Screening for HIV/AIDS and STIs Act of 2011, which establishes a broad policy for voluntary HIV/AIDS and STI screening that focuses on at-risk and historically underrepresented communities. Additionally, Congressman Hastings supports robust funding for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), the Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative, the National AIDS Strategy, and other efforts to address the HIV/AIDS crisis in the United States and abroad.