12.01.08

ENZI MARKS WORLD AIDS DAY; URGES ACTION TO HALT SPREAD OF DISEASE AND EXPAND ACCESS TO CARE

Washington, D.C. – Marking the 20th anniversary of “World AIDS Day,” U.S.Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Laborand Pensions (HELP) Committee, today said that the United States has made great stridescombating AIDS at home and across the world, and must continue to lead the way totreat, prevent, and find a cure for the terrible disease.

“Over 40 million people in the world are living with HIV/AIDS, and millionsmore are infected each year,” Enzi said. “Though we have taken steps to combat thedisease, we must continue to fight this global epidemic on a number of fronts with everynation as a partner.

Early and consistent treatment, promotion of testing, education andprevention campaigns, and cutting-edge research are critical to fighting HIV/AIDS.” Enzi expressed hope that World AIDS Day will serve as a reminder to peopleacross the globe of the importance of getting tested for HIV and knowing one’s status,saying, “Making an HIV test part of a routine physical exam is an important step towardimproving treatment of HIV/AIDS patients and stopping the spread of the disease. Byidentifying HIV-positive individuals sooner, doctors can provide patients with betteraccess to life-saving and life-extending care.”

“For so long, we could only treat the symptoms of AIDS and provide comfort tothe dying. Today, we have the ability to fight back against HIV itself. We havemedicines that can effectively halt the evolution of HIV and help people live normallives.” Enzi said that Congress must focus on renewing and improving the Ryan WhiteCare Act, which provides care and treatment for individuals with HIV and AIDS in theUnited States.

“This year I will be working to reauthorize the Ryan White program and build onthe good work it does throughout the United States,” Enzi said. “For the past 18 years,the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program has helped us to reach hundreds of thousands ofpeople, many of whom had never had access to health care before. Thanks to thepresence of the support network it helps to provide, those living with AIDS have beenable to lead happier, healthier and more productive and active lives.

“In the years to come, the Ryan White program will focus on providing morewidespread testing, and increasing efforts to educate adolescents and those in high riskareas about AIDS and how to prevent it. It will also make it possible to get individualsinto care as soon as possible.”

Enzi also noted the work that the United States is doing to fight AIDS around theworld. Through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), whichCongress reauthorized last year, the United States and its partners have provided care tomore than 6.6 million people in Africa, including 2.7 million orphans and vulnerablechildren, and counseled millions more on the importance of prevention. The first World AIDS Day was held on December 1, 1988.

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