Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Charles Rangel today introduced federal legislation in both chambers of Congress that would help combat the dramatic increase of HIV/AIDS in minority communities. The Communities United with Religious Leaders for the Elimination of HIV/AIDS (CURE) Act of 2013 would authorize the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health to provide grants to health agencies, and community and faith-based organizations for education, outreach, research, and testing activities related to HIV/AIDS prevention.
“HIV/AIDS continues to have a devastating impact on communities of color,” Senator Gillibrand said. “This legislation provides federal investments in early prevention, education, and research that are needed to battle this horrible disease. By investing in these critical resources, we can help protect some of those most vulnerable and save lives.”
“It’s so important that community organizations and religious leaders join in partnership to find ‘on-the-ground’ solutions to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in communities of color,” Congressman Rangel said. “This bill will empower and strengthen these partnerships by providing much needed funding to help them find creative ways to break the silence and denial of this devastating disease.”
The CURE Act of 2013 would:
Strengthen HIV/AIDS education and counseling: The legislation provides health agencies as well as faith and community-based organizations with the resources to expand education and an understanding of disease prevention. The bill also provides for counseling and work with runaway and homeless youth.
Spread awareness to minority communities: The outreach effort will include communities at great risk of contracting HIV/AIDS through the Office of Minority Health, which collaborates with communities in the public and private sectors to increase awareness of the major health problems facing racial and ethnic minorities.
Develop research to find effective solutions: The bill provides the necessary funding to the Center of Disease Control for both behavioral research and testing.
Minorities are at a heightened risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. African Americans account for nearly half of all new HIV infection cases, while Hispanics account for one-fifth. Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders are less than 1 percent of the population, yet their AIDS case rate is twice that of the white population. American Indians/Alaska natives have a 30 percent higher rate of HIV/AIDS infection compared to the white population.
Under the bill, the Office of Minority Health, Center for Disease Control, Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration and more organizations would receive funding to conduct HIV/AIDS research as well as provide prevention and counseling for ethnic minorities.
This legislation is supported by national groups and leaders including the National Medical Association, National Conclave on HIV/AIDS Policy for Black Clergy, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, the Black AIDS Institute, the National Alliance of Hispanic Health, Esperanza Latino Health, Asian Pacific Islander American Wellness Center, National Caucus of Black State Legislators, Us Helping Us – People Into Living, Inc., Reverend Calvin O. Butts, Abyssinian Baptist Church, Reverend Samuel Nixon, Jr., and Alfred Street Baptist Church.