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October 28, 1998

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The AIDS epidemic is not over. It is a particularly severe and ongoing crisis in the African-American community and other communities of color. Like other epidemics before it, AIDS is hitting hardest in areas where poverty is high and education is scarce. It is picking on the most vulnerable among us. We must do more to bury this cruel disease.

President Bill Clinton
October 28, 1998

Today, President Clinton holds a White House event, where he will declare HIV/AIDS to be a severe and ongoing health crisis in racial and ethnic minority communities and announce a comprehensive new initiative that invests an unprecedented $156 million to improve the nation's effectiveness in preventing and treating HIV/AIDS in the African-American, Hispanic, and other minority communities. The President will also highlight other important investments in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and new funding for his initiative to address racial health disparities for a range of diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

The Need For Increased Efforts To Fight HIV/AIDS In Minority Communities. While overall AIDS deaths have declined for two years in a row, it remains the leading killer of African-American men age 25-44 and the second leading killer of African-American women in the same age group. African-Americans comprise more than 40 percent of all new HIV/AIDS cases, and African-American women make up 60 percent of female cases. Hispanics represent over 20 percent of new HIV/AIDS cases, though they make up only 10 percent of the population. During the budget negotiations, President Clinton fought for and won $156 million to address the urgent problem of HIV/AIDS among minorities:

  • A Crisis Response Team: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will make available Crisis Response Teams to a number of highly-impacted areas. These teams of public health and HIV prevention and treatment experts, doctors, nurses, and epidemiologists, will, over the period of several weeks, help assess existing prevention and treatment services for racial and ethnic minorities and develop innovative new strategies to best meet the needs of the community;
  • Enhanced HIV/AIDS Prevention Efforts In Racial And Ethnic Minority Communities: Funding will be used for important HIV prevention purposes at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and to substance abuse treatment programs for African-American and Hispanic women and their children living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS;
  • Reducing Disparities In Treatment And Health Outcomes For Minorities With HIV/AIDS: Studies show that African-Americans and Hispanics are much less likes to receive care that meets federally-recommended treatment guidelines. This new funding will help minorities get access to cutting edge HIV/AIDS drug treatments and the range of primary health services needed to treat this disease. Funding will also be used to educate health care providers serving largely minority populations on treatment guidelines for HIV/AIDS.

The President Fought For And Won Increases In Effective HIV/AIDS Treatment, Prevention, And Research Programs. The President fought for and won substantial increases in a wide range of effective HIV/AIDS programs:

  • A Historic $262 Million Increase In The Ryan White Care Act providing for primary HIV health services, treatments, and training for health care professionals HIV treatment guidelines;
  • A 12 percent Increase For HIV/AIDS Research At NIH to enhance both basic research to further our understanding of the HIV virus, applied research that includes clinical testing of new HIV/AIDS pharmacological therapies, and better protective measures for women at risk.

A Presidential Commitment To Eliminate Racial Health Disparities. Minorities suffer from higher rates for a number of critical diseases, including HIV/AIDS. Congress has taken a first step in investing in the President's proposal to address racial health disparities, but only partially funded the President's proposed grants for communities to develop new strategies to address these disparities and for increases in other critical public health programs.

Calling On Congress To Pass The Unfinished Agenda For People With HIV/AIDS. In addition, Congress failed to pass:

  • A Patients' Bill Of Rights that contains critical protections for people with HIV/AIDS, including, access to specialists, and continuity of care to prevent abrupt changes in treatment when an employer changes health plans;
  • A Work Incentive Bill For People With Disabilities that enables people with disabilities and other disabling conditions, such as HIV/AIDS, to go back to work by expanding options to buy into Medicaid and Medicare, as well as other pro-work initiatives. The President will keep fighting to allow people with disabilities to get the health coverage the need to return to work.

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