AIDS Epidemic Annivesary Marked by Congresswoman Lee

Listen to this article

Press release from the office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee,
Democrat from California’s 13th District (Oakland)
Top photo from the Congresswoman’s official Facebook page

•••• •••• ••••• •••• ••••

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Co-Chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus, today introduced legislation marking the 40th anniversary of the first reported cases of AIDS in the United States on June 5, 1981 in Los Angeles, California.

June 5th, 2021 marks the 40th Anniversary since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) described the first five cases of what later became known as AIDS.  This day is observed to honor those who were lost, recognize the progress made over 40 years, and recommit to the ongoing bipartisan efforts to further the goals of ending the HIV epidemic in the U.S. and globally by 2030.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to impact 1.2 million people in the United States with almost 40,000 new diagnoses each year. An estimated 12.6 million people around the globe are living with HIV and have not received treatment.

“Today, we mourn the 32 million lives lost to HIV/AIDS and remember our family members, neighbors, and friends who have been impacted by this disease over the last 40 years,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Co-Chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus. “As an original author of PEPFAR, I’m proud of how far we have come in the global fight to end HIV/AIDS, but still have work to do to end stigma, discrimination, and access to care. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated health inequities in the U.S. and around the world, making it more important than ever that we invest in improving care for HIV/AIDS. It’s critical that we continue addressing the impact of HIV/AIDS on the African American community, which has been hit especially hard by the AIDS epidemic. The Bay Area has been a leader in HIV/AIDS activism and we will continue the fight for a cure. I thank my fellow co-chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus, Congresswoman González Colón, for working to commemorate this anniversary and reaffirm our commitment to ending HIV/AIDS by 2030.”

Just as the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed severe health disparities, the HIV/AIDS epidemic disproportionately impacts communities of color and LGBTQ communities due to structural racism and discrimination.  African Americans account for 45% of HIV diagnoses, despite comprising just 13% of the population and Latino Americans make up 27% of new HIV cases.

This legislation commends efforts to combat HIV/AIDS, such as the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009, PEPFAR, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. It also calls for increased support for prevention and care of HIV, rapid action by a multitude of countries and centering equity within our public health initiatives.

Endorsing organizations:  Health GAP, The AIDS Institute, American Psychological Association, HealthHIV, National Coalition for LGBT Health amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, HIV Medicine Association, MPact: Global Action for Gay Health & Rights, United States People living with HIV Caucus, National Working Positive Coalition, RESULTS, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, International Association of Providers of AIDS Care, AIDS Alliance for Women, Infants, Children, Youth & Families, Fast-Track Cities Institute National Black Women’s HIV/ AIDS Network, AIDS Action Baltimore, Heartland Alliance International, Ryan White Medical Providers Coalition, National Black Justice Coalition, APLA Health, Black AIDS Institute, AIDS Foundation Chicago, HIV Dental Alliance, R2H Action [Right to Health], John Snow, Inc. (JSI), Cascade AIDS Project, AIDS United, Children’s AIDS Fund. International National Coalition of STD Directors, Christian Connections for International Health,  AVAC, Partners In Health Georgia, AIDS Coalition Transgender Law Center, Get Screened Oakland, Global Network of Black People working in HIV, Aunt Rita’s Foundation, HIV + Hepatitis Policy Institute, NASTAD Trillium Health, CHANGE (Center for Health & Gender Equity), ADAP Advocacy Association, Community Access National Network, North Carolina AIDS Action Network, American Academy of HIV Medicine, Treatment Action Group, Presbyterian HIV Network, Presbyterian Church USA, Latinos Salud.