Put Aside Controversy and Pass HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act, Says Mikulski, Hoyer

In 2004, Maryland Had The Ninth Highest Rate Of Aids In The Nation

WASHINGTON - In observance of World AIDS Day tomorrow, Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today called for her Senate colleagues to put aside controversy and pass the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act when the Senate reconvenes next week. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-So. Md.) expressed similar sentiments about the need to combat AIDS in a statement released today.

"On World AIDS Day, we must recommit ourselves to fighting this deadly disease and honor the men and women who work hard every day to make a difference in the battle against it. HIV/AIDS affects not just patients, but their families and communities," said Mikulski. "That's why I have fought in the Senate to fund programs that reduce new incidences of HIV infection and to increase funding for treatment and finding a cure."

"We must come together as an international community like never before, and commit ourselves to the goal of becoming the generation who took a stand and reversed the deadly course of this deadly pandemic," said Hoyer in his statement. "In the absence of a cure, we have no choice but to focus on prevention. Different prevention methods work better in different countries and regions, and we must be open to all strategies that have proven effective, including education, abstinence, condoms, needle exchange and promotion of women's rights. The entire world is affected by HIV/AIDS and thus the entire world shares the responsibility of preventing its spread and finding its cure. America must lead this fight, and lead the world towards a brighter future."

The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act reauthorizes original legislation, initiated in 1990. The bill reauthorizes programs that provide people living with HIV/AIDS with access to health care, life-saving medication, and essential support services.

Currently, there are more than 1 million people in the United States and 38 million worldwide living with AIDS. In 2004, Maryland had the ninth highest rate of AIDS in the nation, and the rate of infection continues to climb.

Working with Maryland health organizations, Mikulski worked for language to be included in the act that will allow Maryland to transition from its current HIV/AIDS data reporting system (as required by law) without losing federal funding to provide treatment and care for individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS who are in the greatest need of assistance.

"This bill is an important step in the battle against HIV/AIDS. But it must not stop with this bill. I will continue the battle and stand sentry to fight and prevent HIV/AIDS in Maryland and around the world," continued Mikulski. "We must be ready to respond and support our families and communities suffering from HIV/AIDS."

Established by the World Health Organization in 1988, World AIDS Day serves to focus global attention on the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Observance of this day provides an opportunity for governments, national AIDS programs, churches, community organizations and individuals to demonstrate the importance of the fight against HIV/AIDS.

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