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Rep. Yvette D. Clarke’s Statement on the XIX International AIDS Conference

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Yvette D. Clarke released the following statement on the XIX International AIDS Conference.

“I would like to welcome the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) to Washington, D.C. this week. This year, for the first time since 1990, the XIX International AIDS Conference is being held in the United States,” stated Representative Yvette D. Clarke.

“This Conference gives those living with the disease, scientists, doctors, advocates, policymakers and government officials an opportunity to collaborate and share information regarding the various scientific advances in HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention. This year’s theme, ‘Turning the Tide Together,’ was selected to emphasize ‘how a global and decisive commitment is crucial to change the course of the epidemic now that science is presenting promising results in HIV treatment and biomedical prevention.’

“Empirical data indicates over 34 million individuals worldwide have HIV/AIDS. In the United States alone, there are approximately 1.2 million people infected with HIV/AIDS. Of the 1.2 million, approximately half are African-American and only about 13 percent of the United States population.

“’Turning the Tide Together’ is a call to action. One of the issues that will be addressed at the conference is the racial disparities of the disease. Specifically, conferees will discuss ‘strengthening the responses to HIV among the diverse populations and communities affected by this disease, to advance the knowledge, implementation and scale up of evidence-informed HIV and AIDS strategies and programs.’ 

“As of June 2011, there are over 27,000 people living with HIV or AIDS in my congressional district, which is located in central Brooklyn. Of that 27,000, close to 60 percent are Black Americans. Unfortunately, my district has the highest number of newly diagnosed cases in New York City and for a variety of reasons, one of which is lack of access to healthcare. We have the worst post-diagnosis outcomes in New York City.

“Given the numbers from my district, I am thrilled that this year’s conference is about action. It is about mobilizing everyone and taking decisive measures—whether it is on a specific health policy or making sure prescription drugs are affordable and accessible to those who need it. Though the HIV/AIDS community still has a long way to go, we have come so far since the beginning of the epidemic in the 1980s. We are at the crossroads of HIV detection and treatment, and at the threshold of preventive measures. Given the emerging scientific breakthroughs, I firmly believe that we will eradicate the HIV/AIDS pandemic through advances in medicine, technology and scientific research-if we work collectively.

“This international conference is a great stepping stone, providing an opportunity for some of the world’s greatest minds to exchange ideas and work towards ‘turning the tide together,’” concluded Representative Clarke.