AIDS Action Weekly Update
August 23, 1996
Welcome to AIDS Action Council's Weekly Washington Update, an on-line newsletter that reviews what is happening in Washington on AIDS policy issues each week. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact us at the e-mail address listed below.
Republican Message On AIDS LackingGOP delegates from all over the United States met last week in San Diego for the Republican National Convention. During the convention, AIDS Action Council and Mothers' Voices, a national group of mothers who have lost their sons and daughters to AIDS, gathered for "Mothers' Dialogue on AIDS", stating that, "unwavering, unequivocal commitment and leadership from the next President of the United States are required if we are to win the battle against AIDS." Later, AIDS advocates from all over the nation demonstrated outside the convention grounds, asking GOP delegates departing from the convention, "What about AIDS?". AIDS activist, Mary Fisher and Hydeia Broadbent, a 12-year old born with HIV and now living with AIDS, addressed party members. These efforts, however, were not enough to expand the Republican's platform on AIDS, which merely reaffirmed the call for a cure. The AIDS community is dismayed that the messages that they had hoped for a coordinated response and providing leadership and adequate resources in the battle against AIDSÄwere not addressed in the Republican platform on AIDS.
Democrats Gear Up For The Democratic National ConventionDemocratic delegates are preparing for the Democratic National Convention held in Chicago next week. Party members are hoping that President Clinton's appearance at the convention and acceptance of the presidential nomination will gain points in the polls as it did for Republican candidate Bob Dole. AIDS activists will also ask the Democratic leadership to address the issues of prevention, research, care, housing, and civil rights, which were ignored in the Republican AIDS platform. AIDS speakers are expected at the convention, but they have not been formally announced.
Clinton Signs Minimum Wage, Health Insurance, WelfareThe week before the Democratic National Convention, President Clinton signed three bills, the minimum wage bill, health insurance reform, and welfare reform, that Democratic supporters hope will give a much needed boost to the president's standing in the polls. AIDS activists have been paying close attention to the latter two bills and the ramifications for the AIDS community.
The Health Insurance Reform Act, while not the universal coverage espoused by the president when he was elected in 1992, does provide for some modest improvements for individuals with pre-existing health conditions and for those who change employers, are terminated from their jobs, or become self-employed. These provisions are especially important to people with HIV/AIDS, who in the past have been denied health insurance coverage as a result of their health status. A major drawback of the bill is that it does not offer any cost-containment measures nor ensure an adequate package of benefits. The bill also includes several objectionable provisions including an administrative simplification provision that may significantly undermine the privacy of personal patient information. The welfare reform measure essentially eliminates all federal benefits, including Medicaid, for most legal immigrants, including those with HIV/AIDS, as well as eliminating benefits for adults who receive cash assistance and do not comply with the work requirements of the bill. The bill also denies Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)/Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and food stamps to individuals convicted of drug-related felonies. Since nearly half of new HIV cases are the result of injection drug use, this provision could adversely affect individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS.
FDA Approves Urine Test To Detect Hiv AntibodiesThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first urine test to detect HIV antibodies, earlier this month. The test, developed by Calypte Biomedical Corp., is a simpler, though not as accurate means of detecting HIV antibodies in an individual, than traditional blood tests. The urine test is expected to miss one or two HIV infections of every 100 tested while a routine blood test would miss one to two in 1,000. Further, of every 100 people tested, the urine test falsely identified one or two uninfected individuals as having HIV, while blood tests give false-positive results about one in every 1,000. The urine test can only be administered by a health professional and the FDA requires that positive results be confirmed by a follow-up blood test.
This article was provided by AIDS Action Council. It is a part of the publication AIDS Action Weekly Update.