Observing World AIDS Day

Today we observe World AIDS Day and honor family members and friends lost to AIDS.  We also renew our commitment to support the more than one million Americans and 33 million people globally living with HIV and AIDS.  In Pennsylvania alone, over 37,000 people have been diagnosed with AIDS since 1980, and 615,000 Americans have passed away.  We remember and pay tribute as well to the doctors, nurses, counselors and loved ones who have studied HIV/AIDS and committed to improving the lives of those infected or at risk.

Although we have made great strides in prevention and treatment, new challenges have emerged and we must continue efforts to reduce infection and ease the burden on HIV/AIDS patients.  More than 17,000 Americans with AIDS die every year and one in five people living with HIV are unaware of their infection.  As Pennsylvania’s United States Senator, I have advocated for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program to provide life-extending healthcare, drug treatment, and support services to over half a million low-income individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS.  As a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, I supported the reauthorization of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a global campaign to reduce incidents of HIV/AIDS. I have also fought to increase support for both domestic and global HIV/AIDS treatment, prevention, and research programs in the annual appropriations process.  In the 111th Congress, I was a proud cosponsor of the Early Treatment for HIV Act, which would give states the option of providing Medicaid coverage for low-income individuals who are HIV-positive.

In accordance with this year’s World AIDS Day theme, “Leading with Science, Uniting for Action”, I encourage Pennsylvanians to learn more about the necessary steps to prevent and treat infection.   More information can be found at www.aids.gov or your local HIV/AIDS prevention and service provider.