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Introducing a Resolution in Support of the XIX International AIDs Conference

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

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. AIDS 2012 is organized by the International AIDS Society (IAS) and brings together more than 20,000 delegates from nearly 200 countries, including 2,000 journalists. My resolution supports a stronger international response to HIV/AIDS that seeks to prevent the transmission of HIV, increase access to testing, treatment, and care, improve health outcomes for all people living with HIV/AIDS, foster greater scientific and programmatic collaborations around the world to end HIV/AIDS, and protect the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS.

According to UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, there are approximately 33.4 million people living with HIV worldwide, and nearly 30 million people have died of AIDS since the first cases were reported in 1981. The United States is heavily engaged in both international and domestic efforts to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic, including the United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Taxpayers in the United States have paid more than $45 billion through PEPFAR and the Global Fund, which have enjoyed broad bipartisan support in Congress.

Since 1985, the now biennial International AIDS Conference has brought together leading scientists, public health experts, policymakers, community leaders, and individuals living with HIV/AIDS from around the world to enhance the global response to HIV/AIDS, evaluate recent scientific developments, share knowledge, and facilitate a collective strategy to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic. AIDS 2012 is a tremendous opportunity to strengthen the role of the United States in global HIV/AIDS initiatives within the context of significant global economic challenges, reenergize the response to the domestic epidemic, and focus particular attention on the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS that continues in the United States.

The theme of AIDS 2012, ``Turning the Tide Together,'' embodies 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 increasing effective, evidence-based interventions in key settings to change the course of the HIV/AIDS crisis. AIDS 2012 seeks to engage governments, non-governmental organizations, policymakers, the scientific community, the private sector, civil society, faith-based organizations, the media, and people living with HIV/AIDS to more effectively address regional, national, and local responses to HIV/AIDS around the world and overcome barriers that limit access to preventative care, treatment, and other services.

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, addressing the needs of women and girls, directing effective programming toward the populations at the highest risk of infection, ensuring accountability, and combating stigma, poverty, and other social challenges related to HIV/AIDS 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, 25 years after the III International AIDS Conference was held in Washington, DC, we are now at a point where we have the tools necessary to prevent the spread of HIV and bring an end to the crisis. Now is the time to commit. HIV/AIDS is not a partisan issue. But it will take a bipartisan effort to overcome HIV/AIDS as a nation once and for all. 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.''

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