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Policy & Politics
HHS Secretary Establishes Committees to Address Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative, HIV Issues for Minority MSM

September 15, 2003

HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson on Sept. 8 met with national AIDS advocates and established several committees to examine "longstanding issues critical to the AIDS community," including addressing HIV research, prevention and care for minority men who have sex with men and the funding and implementation of the Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative (MAI), according to a San Francisco AIDS Foundation release. The Congressional Black Caucus established the MAI in 1998 to respond to CDC data showing that HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects the African-American community in the United States; although African Americans comprise 12% of the U.S. population, they represent more than 50% of all new HIV infections. In fiscal year 2000, MAI was expanded to include Latino, Asian-Pacific Islander and Native American communities. The Congressional Black, Hispanic and Asian-Pacific Islander Caucuses have proposed that Congress appropriate $540 million for the initiative in FY 2004. Thompson asked Debra Fraser-Howze, president and CEO of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS; Deborah Parham, director of the Health Resources and Services Administration HIV/AIDS Bureau; and Christopher Bates, acting director of the Office of HIV/AIDS Policy in the HHS Office of the Secretary, to serve as co-chairs of the committee on the MAI. Thompson asked Ernest Hopkins, director of federal affairs for SFAF, to serve as chair of the committee focusing on HIV/AIDS issues for minority MSM. The committees will include people living with HIV/AIDS, national HIV/AIDS advocates, researchers and health professionals from "diverse communities" that are disproportionately affected by the disease, according to the release. The committees are scheduled to issue reports on their findings in December (SFAF release, 9/8).

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