March 11, 2009
Washington, DC -- Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) re-introduced the Stop AIDS in Prison Act (H.R. 1429) today. She announced the introduction of this bill at the Congressional Summit on the Effects of HIV and Incarceration on Communities of Color, an event on Capitol Hill organized by the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC).
"The Stop AIDS in Prison Act will help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS among prison inmates, encourage them to take personal responsibility for their health, and reduce the risk that they will transmit HIV/AIDS to other people in the community following their release from prison," said Congresswoman Waters.
Original cosponsors of the Stop AIDS in Prison Act include Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee; and Rep. Robert C. Scott (D-VA), Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, which has jurisdiction over federal prisons.
"I am honored to have the support of Judiciary Committee leaders for the Stop AIDS in Prison Act, and I look forward to working with the House leadership to pass it," said the Congresswoman.
The Stop AIDS in Prison Act was passed by the House of Representatives during the 110th Congress by voice vote. However, the Senate did not complete action on the bill prior to adjournment.
"AIDS is spreading in our nation's jails and prisons. In 2005, the Department of Justice reported that the rate of confirmed AIDS cases in prisons was three times higher than in the general population. We need to take the threat of HIV/AIDS seriously and confront it in every institution of our society. That includes our nation's prison system," said Congresswoman Waters.
The Stop AIDS in Prison Act requires the Bureau of Prisons to test all Federal prison inmates for HIV upon entering prison and again prior to release from prison, unless the inmate opts out of taking the test. The bill also requires HIV/AIDS prevention education for all inmates and comprehensive treatment for those inmates who test positive.
Congresswoman Waters has been a leader of congressional efforts to confront the HIV/AIDS epidemic. During the last Congress, she sponsored five initiatives to promote HIV/AIDS prevention, testing and treatment.