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"People in the United States seem to have grown complacent and forgotten that HIV/AIDS is not just a problem overseas, but one here in our own nation. With as many as 1.1 million people in our country living with HIV/AIDS, our government, through passing a new Ryan White CARE Act, must ensure that lifesaving drugs, medical care, and social services are provided to those in need, wherever they live."

"Continued flat funding for CARE Act programs will do little to help eliminate current waiting lists, and nothing to extend care and treatment to people who aren't even on those lists. Instead, it will only serve to pit city against city and state against state for the limited dollars available. A person's ability to receive treatment should not depend upon where in the country they live."

"The Ryan White CARE Act works -- that is why it must be reauthorized. In the devastation following Hurricane Katrina, one of the only bright notes was that the Ryan White/ADAP system in states across the country went into high gear to assure that poor patients could access their life-saving medications. The CARE Act and the systems it has created serve as a model for all medical care in the U.S."

"Ryan taught us that AIDS can strike anyone, anywhere. As we work together to renew the Ryan White CARE Act, I urge the Congress and the Administration to provide adequate funding so that everyone who is in need of these lifesaving medications and medical care, can have the chance to live productive, healthy and longer lives."

"With as many as 1.1 million people in the U.S. living today with HIV/AIDS, and nearly 3 out of 4 of them uninsured or relying on public assistance, the CARE Act for them is a matter of life or death. This media campaign will remind Americans that HIV/AIDS exists in everyone's neighborhood and that despite the success of the Ryan White program, not all Americans have access to lifesaving care and treatment."

"The Ryan White CARE Act has a proven track record of success in providing lifesaving drugs as well as a full range of medical care and support services. The CARE Act is keeping people alive much longer than ever before. It has had strong bipartisan support from Congressional leaders over the years. We expect the same this year -- swift passage of reauthorization legislation this fall."

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 14, 2005
CONTACT: Jennifer Devlin
1-703-876-1714
jennifer.devlin@cox.net

LATINO COMMUNITY CALLS FOR INCREASED FUNDING AND TIMELY REAUTHORIZATION OF RYAN WHITE CARE ACT

Latino AIDS Awareness Day Town Hall Event Highlights Growing Impact of HIV/AIDS on Hispanics

Los Angeles, CA (Oct. 14, 2005) -- Leaders of Los Angeles' Latino community today urged Congress to renew the Ryan White CARE Act, which they called a "critical safety net" for providing care and treatment to HIV/AIDS patients in their community. Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and local government leaders joined local health care providers, service agencies and patients at a "town hall" meeting hosted by The Ryan White ACTION Campaign and Bienestar Human Services Inc. as part of this week's Latino AIDS Awareness Day activities.

Representative Hilda Solís, Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus' Health Task Force, noted during the town hall: "It is important that Congress pass a comprehensive and fully funded Ryan White CARE Act as soon as possible. After Medicaid, the Ryan White CARE Act is the largest payer of care and treatment services for AIDS patients in the U.S. The CARE Act provides a critical safety net for the Latino community, who are disproportionately represented among the uninsured and underinsured."

Representative Grace Napolitano, Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus commented, "The reauthorization of the Ryan White Act is critically important to the Hispanic community. It's our opportunity to really help Latinos who are suffering from this devastating illness."

"The Ryan White ACTION Campaign was delighted to co-host this important Town Hall meeting held in Los Angeles with Bienestar Human Services," said Dr. Gene Copello, Executive Director of The AIDS Institute and a spokesperson for The Ryan White ACTION Campaign. "As an effort related to National Latino AIDS Awareness Day," Copello continued, "the Town Hall meeting brought consumers, providers, elected officials and concerned community members together to discuss the importance of the Ryan White CARE Act to the Latino community." He concluded: "Clearly, the discussion confirmed the need for an improved and better funded Ryan White CARE Act to serve the needs of uninsured and underinsured people living with HIV/AIDS."

Each year, the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resource Emergency (CARE) Act provides care and treatment for more than half a million uninsured and underinsured individuals living with HIV/AIDS. The law expired on Sept. 30 and Congress has not yet introduced a bill to renew it. The Latino community represents the largest category of uninsured persons nationwide, and an estimated 20 percent of those served by the CARE Act. In fact, Latinos have the second-highest AIDS case rate of any racial/ethnic group in the U.S. According to 2003 statistics, Latinos make up 13.9 percent of the population, yet accounted for 19.8 percent of U.S. AIDS cases, and 43.3 percent of those reported in California. AIDS is the sixth leading cause of death among Latinos between the ages of 25 and 34.

"With more Latinos and Latinas living with AIDS in the City of Los Angeles than any other ethnic group, reauthorization of a strong and responsive CARE Act is more important than ever to this community," said Stephen Simon, AIDS Coordinator for the City of Los Angeles.

"Securing adequate federal funding for HIV/AIDS is an issue of great impact to the Latino community," said Oscar De La O, Executive Director for Bienestar Human Services. "Securing policies that allow the provision of comprehensive services is just as important," he added.

Juan Carlos Ricaurte, MD, Medical Director of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation Hollywood Healthcare Center commented: "Latinos and other minorities living with HIV and AIDS face barriers to care because of lack of insurance, cultural and linguistic insensitivities in the healthcare system, or simple lack of information. Increased funding for AIDS care and treatment is required to respond to the growing crisis among Latino communities."

National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, October 15, is a national day of awareness and prevention against HIV and AIDS in the Latino community. It salutes the more than 76,000 Latino AIDS survivors in the United States and the efforts of people living with HIV and AIDS, volunteers and professionals who combat AIDS each day.


About the Ryan White ACTION Campaign (www.ryanwhiteaction.org)

The Ryan White ACTION Campaign is a national campaign designed to raise awareness about the importance of the Ryan White CARE Act, which expired on September 30th, and why it needs to be reauthorized and adequately funded. Launched by a coalition of medical providers and HIV/AIDS advocacy organizations, including The AIDS Institute, American Academy of HIV Medicine, HIV Medicine Association, and National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, the campaign includes the involvement of a number of prominent advocates on HIV/AIDS, including Jeanne White-Ginder and former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher.


About Bienestar Human Services, Inc. (www.bienestar.org)

Bienestar Human Services is a Latino-based non-profit organization committed to enhancing the health and well-being of the Latino community through community education, prevention, mobilization, advocacy, and the provision of direct social support services.

Media Notes: To request interviews with any of the participants, contact Jennifer N. Devlin at 1-703-876-1714 or Jennifer.devlin@cox.net.