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Public Statements

World AIDS Day 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. NELSON of Florida. Mr. President, Saturday we mark another World AIDS Day dedicated to showing our support of people living with HIV. In the 24 years since the first such day, we have seen great progress in the fight against the spread of this disease.

But there is still much more that needs to be done, not the least of which includes increasing public awareness. So this World AIDS Day, especially in memory of those who have died from this disease, let us recommit to ending this epidemic once and for all.

My State of Florida has been hit particularly hard by this epidemic: over 100,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS. And for too long, Florida had a long waiting list of low income residents waiting for assistance to afford the high cost of life saving medications. At times, this list grew to over 4,000 Floridians.

Thankfully, we have made great progress over the past year through increased State and Federal investment--and, Florida's wait list is now down to 56 individuals. But no one should have to forgo life saving drugs because they can't afford them.

In the days ahead when Congress is considering ways to tighten our belt, I would urge my colleagues to avoid blindly slashing these life saving programs.

We also must remain committed to funding the goals of President Barack Obama's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief globally. Among the goals is to provide care for the more than 12 million people with HIV around the world, including some 5 million orphans and children.

Mr. President, this is not, and should not be partisan issue for lawmakers. As former President George W. Bush noted in 2008, it's a question of our moral interest.

``We believe in the timeless truth,'' the president said, ``to whom much is given, much is required.''

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