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December 1, 2008: REP. JOHN LEWIS STATEMENT ON 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF WORLD AIDS DAY
An estimated 33 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in the world today. More than a million of those people live in the United States. From 2001 to 2005, the number of deaths from AIDS had decreased throughout the nation, however, that rate continued to climb in the South.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are more people in the South living with and dying from AIDS today than in any other region of the country.

    From 2004 to 2006, half of all the people who died from AIDS in this country lived in the South. According to the Southern AIDS Coalition, of the 20 metropolitan areas with the highest rates of AIDS in the country, 80 percent or 16 of those areas are in the South.  Of the 15 states with the highest rates of new AIDS diagnoses, 60 percent or nine of them are Southern states.

There are many factors that contribute to this emergency—fear, poverty, lack of education, the crisis of the uninsured, lack of health care infrastructure, and reduced funding. 

    “A virus does not discriminate,” said Rep. John Lewis.  “That is why we must put aside any fears and reservations we may have and do all we can to look out and care for each other.  It is in the best interest of our entire community, and it is in the best interest of the nation that we do what we can to help stop the spread of this disease.  We have a moral obligation to care for those who are suffering from this virus, wherever we may find them. 

    “As a government and as a national community, but especially in the South, we must use every resource at our disposal to save lives and control the spread of HIV and AIDS.  History has shown that education and preventive measures can make a difference. The 110th Congress has expanded funding for life-saving treatments, but we can and must do more.   I am hoping that a new administration will take another look at the federal commitment to end this disease and will help renew federal efforts to stamp out this epidemic.”

 

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