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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 3 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 31
Democrats introduce Cure for AIDS Act
Section One
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Democrats introduce Cure for AIDS Act

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Two Democratic members of Congress have introduced a bill to fund research and development for an AIDS cure.

Representatives Jim Himes (D-Conn.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) announced the Cure for AIDS Act (HR 6187) on July 31. Lee is co-chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus.

The bill establishes a $100 million program to fund research directly targeted at discovering a cure for HIV/AIDS. It would provide $20 million per year for the next five years.

The effort would be overseen by the Department of Defense as a Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP). As with other CDMRPs, the department would work with academic researchers and nonprofit organizations to create a consortium of scientists and advocates to review cure proposals.

'After slow but important progress in the face of a deadly and terrible disease, a cure is finally within reach,' Himes said July 31 while visiting a display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

'This bill provides the medical research community with the resources it needs to find that cure so that we can finally put an end to this worldwide epidemic.'

Lee stressed the importance of federal investment in health care.

'Federal investments in research have paid enormous dividends in the health and well-being of people in the U.S. and around the world,' she said.

'More than a quarter-century of federally funded research into the virus that causes AIDS has provided unprecedented hope for an end to the epidemic. An AIDS-free generation is not yet upon us, but may not be far off and we must keep working to achieve this goal.'

LOCAL REPS ARE SKEPTICAL
Seattle's Democratic members of Congress, Jim McDermott (D-7th Dist.) and Adam Smith (D-9th Dist.) told SGN they are studying the bill to determine if they will co-sponsor it.

McDermott spokesperson Kinsey Kiriakos told SGN that 'the Congressman absolutely supports funding for research into a cure for AIDS,' but 'he is not sure that the Defense Department is the best place to direct those research funding dollars.'

'[McDermott] is considering co-sponsoring the bill, but he wants to look into the bill further and figure out why the DoD would be better suited than the National Institutes of Health,' Kiriakos added.

Congressional staffer Ayofemi Kirby told SGN that Rep. Smith is also 'looking into co-sponsoring the Cure for AIDS Act.'

Kirby added that 'as a member of the bipartisan HIV/AIDS Caucus, [Smith] has made HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, and general programming a priority.'

According to Kirby, Smith has co-sponsored bills to eliminate abstinence-only STD prevention programs (HR 1085), to establish a national strategy for HIV/AIDS treatments, and to establish a comprehensive sex-education plan to help reduce STDs (HR 3324).

Some 34 million people worldwide were estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS in 2010, including 1.2 million in the United States. The average lifetime cost of HIV treatment is estimated to exceed $360,000 per person.

In fiscal 2012, the federal government spent $27.7 billion on HIV/AIDS, mostly for prevention and treatment.

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