"[O]ne thing I've learned from working on HIV/AIDS my entire political career -- we are far better united than divided," Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) writes in a Politico opinion piece, noting examples of bipartisan legislation that "help to slow the rate of infections and reduce the number of deaths from AIDS." She continues, "We can put into place the policies that can help end AIDS. Even in a time of fiscal uncertainty, we have the resources. We just have to be smart about it, and that means responding to the reality of HIV and not the luxury of our political comfort." Lee writes, "Worldwide, we have to maximize our efficiency and build programs that make sense," including integrating family planning, maternal health, and HIV services and "respond[ing] to the needs expressed by key populations, including men who have sex with men, sex workers, and people who inject drugs." She says, "As long as we are supporting laws that limit comprehensive sex education, deny federal funding for syringe exchange services, or criminalize people living with HIV for consensual sex, biting and spitting, we are allowing HIV to thrive."
"That is why I call on Congress to pass my bill, 'Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic Act of 2012,'" Lee writes, noting the bill "would make sure the resources we put toward HIV programs are used efficiently, as well as increase them," "build the number and capacity of health care workers, expand treatment and prevention initiatives, end laws that allow HIV to spread, and make sure the programs and services we provide will be effective in the long term." She says the bill "is a basic act of compassion and justice that recognizes everyone's human right to live healthy lives." Lee concludes, "We have the opportunity to be the Congress that traded in political posturing for responsibility. We have the opportunity to be the Congress that chooses compassion over discrimination and remind the world that this is a country of exceptional character, a country that chooses to pursue a future without AIDS" (11/29).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.