Senate Democrats

Reid: We Must Improve HIV/AIDS Care, Prevention and Research

National Latino AIDS Awareness Day highlights impact on Latinas

Washington, DC – On the third annual National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid vowed that we must do better to promote awareness and prevention of HIV/AIDS.

“We must do more for HIV/AIDS care, prevention and research and fight against Medicaid cuts to ensure that vulnerable populations have the safety net they need,” said Senator Reid.

Although Latinos represent about 14% of the U.S. population, they account for 19% of the AIDS cases diagnosed since the start of the epidemic, and 20% of the new cases diagnosed in 2003 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A new report released today by the Hispanic Federation found that Latinas have been especially hard hit, since they now account for 21% of all AIDS deaths among women, and AIDS has become one of the leading causes of death for Latinas ages 25 through 44.

“Mothers, sisters and daughters are being particularly impacted by the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Each time AIDS takes the life of another Latina it destroys families, and weakens communities,” said Senator Reid.

But instead of strengthening the programs that will help Latinos afflicted by AIDS, funding requests for the Minority AIDS Initiative were reduced in President Bush’s 2006 budget. Funding for housing assistance through the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Program was also reduced by $14 million and the Ryan White CARE Act, the largest discretionary HIV/AIDS care program expired on September 30 and has not been reauthorized. In addition, the Administration has proposed a $60 billion cut to Medicaid, which serves approximately 55 % of all persons living with AIDS and up to 90% of all children with AIDS.

“We cannot allow this Administration’s neglect to continue devastating families. We can do better,” said Senator Reid.