CONGRESSWOMAN WATERS INTRODUCES
THE ROUTINE HIV SCREENING COVERAGE ACT
Cites Importance of Monitoring Epidemic and Encouraging People to Take Precautions
April 29, 2009 – Washington, DC – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-35) today re-introduced the Routine HIV Screening Coverage Act (H.R. 822 in the 110th Congress). This bill would require health insurance plans to cover routine HIV tests under the same terms and conditions as other routine health screenings.
“Standard health insurance plans now cover HIV tests only when there are clinical indications of infection or when there are known risk factors present, but they should cover HIV tests as routine procedures,” said Congresswoman Waters. “Routine HIV screening is a key to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS. It will encourage more people to get tested and raise awareness about the continuing risk of the disease. It will also allow thousands of Americans who are living with HIV/AIDS but do not know it to find out about their infection, begin life-extending treatment, and avoid spreading the virus to others.”
Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that there were 56,300 new HIV infections in the United States in 2006. This figure is approximately 40% higher than the CDC’s previous estimate of 40,000 new infections per year. Twenty-one percent of the people who are living with HIV/AIDS in the United States do not know they are infected.
“Recent news about the swine flu virus reminds us of the importance of monitoring epidemics and encouraging people to take precautions to protect their health. It is important that we remain vigilant in our efforts to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS even as we respond to this most recent threat to public health,” the Congresswoman added.
The Routine HIV Screening Coverage Act is one of several legislative initiatives related to HIV/AIDS that Congresswoman Waters is pursuing in the 111th Congress. She introduced H.R. 1429, the Stop AIDS in Prison Act, which passed the House on March 17th and is now awaiting consideration in the Senate. This bill requires the Federal Bureau of Prisons to develop a comprehensive policy to provide HIV testing, treatment and prevention programs for inmates in Federal prisons.
Congresswoman Waters is also an advocate for the expansion of the Minority AIDS Initiative, which she established in 1998, working with the Clinton Administration and the Congressional Black Caucus. The Minority AIDS Initiative provides grants for HIV/AIDS awareness, treatment and prevention programs that serve minority communities. The initiative has received approximately $400 million per year in appropriations since fiscal year 2003.
“I am calling for at least $610 million in funding this year to expand the Minority AIDS Initiative and stop the spread of HIV/AIDS among communities of color, which have been disproportionately impacted by this disease,” said Congresswoman Waters.
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