Ryan White CARE Act, a Cornerstone of HIV Treatment and Care, Expires: AIDS Action Urges Congress to Strengthen Our Nation's Response to the HIV Epidemic
September 29, 2005
Washington, DC -- Tomorrow, September 30, 2005, the current authorization of the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act expires. Since its enactment in 1990, this historic HIV legislation has saved hundreds of thousands of lives of people living with HIV or an AIDS diagnosis in the United States. It is the largest source of federal funding dedicated solely to HIV care and treatment services for individuals who would otherwise be unable to afford them.
The more than 100 members of AIDS Action, who support and provide services for individuals living with HIV, ask the federal government to reassess and improve its response to the U.S. HIV epidemic. Reauthorizing the CARE Act is a critical part of this effort. The government must strengthen the CARE Act to enable its programs to keep pace with the epidemic's continuing growth and changing trends.
"Reauthorization is essential to ensuring that everyone living with HIV and in need of care and treatment receives it," states Craig Thompson, executive director of AIDS Project Los Angeles and Board chair of the AIDS Action Council. "In addition, access to HIV/AIDS treatment and care services must be consistent," he continues. "No one in need of lifesaving care and treatment should ever be without it."
Through its ongoing work in support of CARE Act reauthorization, AIDS Action has focused particular attention on the need to enhance access to medications through the CARE Act's AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). AIDS Action has developed a new and exciting ADAP proposal for the Congress to consider. If implemented, the proposal would end waiting lists and other eligibility limitations for ADAP services, increase consistency of services and medications provided by ADAP across states, and improve Congress' ability to oversee the program and to understand its beneficial effects, which include prolonged life and better overall health.
Tomorrow's expiration does not halt current operation of CARE Act programs. AIDS Action urges Congress to work swiftly to reauthorize the CARE act, while insuring the CARE Act remains relevant in addressing the domestic HIV epidemic. AIDS Action believes it is not enough simply to reauthorize the Act. The CARE Act must be coupled with enough funding to make a difference in the lives of people living with HIV right now, and insure that anyone infected in the future has the same access to care.
Advances in treatment have helped people with HIV disease lead longer, more productive lives. These advances, combined with a steady number of new infections (about 42,000 a year) has meant that more people than ever before (an estimated 1,039,000 to 1,185,000) are now living with the virus. Thus, despite the success of the CARE Act and other HIV programs, the epidemic in this country remains a public health emergency. Adding to the severity of this emergency, an estimated 50 percent of individuals living with HIV in the United States are not receiving regular medical care and treatment for their infection.
"AIDS Action urges Congress to reauthorize the CARE Act," states Ronald Johnson, associate executive director of the Gay Men's Health Crisis and co-chair of AIDS Action Council's Public Policy Committee. "As part of this reauthorization, we are encouraging the inclusion of AIDS Action's affordable, common sense AIDS Drug Assistance Program proposal, which will help all Americans living with HIV to receive the medications they need."
This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.