Roybal-Allard encourages residents to get tested for HIV

DOWNEY - Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34), chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Health Care Task Force and a senior member of the Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for funding federal health programs, released a statement earlier this month on the occasion of World AIDS Day."Today, December 1, we commemorate World AIDS Day - a day to celebrate, to remember, and to commit ourselves to an AIDS-free future. We have made tremendous progress in the 22 years since that first World AIDS Day in 1988, and there is much to celebrate. Because of our investments in domestic and international HIV/AIDS prevention, care, treatment, and research, we have seen this disease progress from an acute terminal illness to a manageable chronic disease. The over 5 million people now getting AIDS drugs in the developing world are living proof that investments can translate into lives saved. "This is also a day to remember all those living with HIV/AIDS and those we have lost to this devastating disease. Amidst all of the progress we have made, there were 2.9 million new HIV infections in 2009, drastically outpacing the 1.2 million newly placed on treatment. In the United States there are significant disparities in the rates of new infection in both minority communities and among young gay men. Although African-American and Hispanic persons represent about one-quarter of the country's population, more than half of new AIDS cases reported to CDC are among these populations. Among children, the disparities are even more dramatic, with African-American and Hispanic children representing more than 80 percent of pediatric AIDS cases. "While there are many difficult challenges ahead in the battle against HIV / AIDS, there is one very real and attainable goal that we can all commit ourselves to in the short run. Worldwide more than 1000 children are born with HIV every day. Although 90 percent of those children are born in Africa, new childhood infections here in the United States continue to have negative impacts on children's health, their families, their communities and their opportunities. "There is existing treatment to reduce a mother's chance of transmitting this disease to her child from around 40 percent to less than 1 percent. Regrettably, only half of the women who need this treatment have access today. Across the globe and here in our own communities, we need to commit ourselves to ensuring that all pregnant women are tested for HIV and, if found to be positive, have access to treatment to control their disease and prevent transmission to their babies. Today I am urging all young women in my District, and across Los Angeles, who may be considering becoming pregnant to get tested for HIV. Talk to your sisters, your daughters, your cousins, and your girlfriends and encourage them to do the same. If we all work together, we can help create an AIDS-free generation on children by 2015."

********** Published: December 9, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 34