FORT LAUDERDALE, FL — Recently, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) released the following statement marking National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which was first observed in 1999:
“Today I join millions of Americans in marking National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). While substantial gains have been made in the development of treatments designed to enhance the quality of life for those living with HIV/AIDS and toward eradicating the disease, much work remains to be done. We must all do our part to create awareness of prevention, new treatment initiatives and support programs so that this disease does not continue to decimate our communities.
“In the United States today, more than 1.2 million people live with HIV/AIDS with almost 14 percent (one in seven) unaware that they are carriers of the potentially fatal infection. Of those individuals with the disease, the African American community is the hardest hit by the HIV epidemic, with gay African American males at highest risk. It is precisely for these reasons that observing NBHAAD is so important.
“This year’s theme, ‘I am my Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper. Fight HIV/AIDS!’ reiterates the notion that we are all responsible for the future and health of our neighbors and our communities. While NBHAAD emerged as a grass roots initiative, hundreds of organizations now participate in advancing the cause and many have registered events to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. The core message of these events is the need for HIV testing, which is crucial to early detection of this disease.
“Throughout my tenure in Congress, I have remained as a staunch advocate for the HIV/AIDS community and a member of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus. I will continue to support robust funding for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) Program, Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative, and National AIDS Strategy, as well as HIV/AIDS research. I will continue to work to ensure that these successful programs are funded and that they remain adaptive to the changing geography and demographics of this disease.”