Tuesday, February 20 , 2018, 7:43 pm | Fair 49º


House Passes Landmark Bill on HIV/AIDs, Tuberculosis, Malaria

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Tuesday voted for the Lantos-Hyde U.S. Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reduction (House Resolution 5501).

The bill is the reauthorization and improvement of legislation first passed in 2003 to address these terrible diseases.  The bill also repeals the longstanding HIV travel ban.  The bill will be sent to the President, who has indicated he will sign it.

The following is Capps’ statement:

“Madame Speaker, I rise in strong support of HR 5501.

Every day, 6,000 people become infected with HIV, over 1,000 of whom are babies.

We have made terrific advancements in treating and preventing HIV/AIDS, but they mean nothing unless we ensure that the most vulnerable populations have access to them.

Since its inception, the president’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has saved countless lives and increasing our investment through this reauthorization will save millions more.

I am especially proud to see that this reauthorization places stronger emphasis on prevention.

Without increased efforts to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS, we will never adequately address the long-term needs of the global HIV/AIDS population and global health overall.

This bill takes important steps to increase prevention efforts by overturning the ineffective one-third abstinence-only requirement that currently applies to global HIV/AIDS prevention funding; providing an increased focus on women and girls who are at-risk; and setting a target for PEPFAR to provide 80 percent of pregnant women with the tools they need to prevent maternal-to-child transmission of HIV.

I am thrilled to see an increased investment in helping countries to expand their health care workforce as they face drastic shortages in skilled health care workers.

During my recent visit to Africa with the House Democracy Assistance Commission, I had the opportunity to visit with doctors, nurses and ministries of health in several countries.

They are desperate for more professionals who can treat individuals affected with HIV/AIDS, especially in countries like Malawi where 15 percent of the population suffers from HIV/AIDS.

Our investments and improvements of PEPFAR fulfill a moral responsibility that we are accountable to.

Our steadfast commitment to PEPFAR is also one of our proudest foreign policy accomplishments over the past few years as we provide the necessary humanitarian assistance required for countries to sustain themselves in the long-term.

Finally, I would like to also applaud the provision removing the ban on visas for HIV-infected individuals wishing to come to the United States. This mean spirited statute should have been repealed long ago and I am glad to see that it is finally being ended. Only a few countries have such a policy and America should not be one of them.

I urge my colleagues to enthusiastically support this legislation and I look forward to the success we are sure to see in addressing the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.”

Emily Kryder is press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.

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