12.06.06

Burr Applauds Senate for Passing Ryan White CARE Act Reauthorization

North Carolina to receive more equitable funding for individuals infected with HIV/AIDS

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Richard Burr today thanked his Senate colleagues for putting aside differences and passing H.R. 6143, the Ryan White CARE Act Reauthorization legislation. The bill will provide more equitable distribution of Ryan White CARE Act funds to states with elevated rates of new HIV/AIDS infections, including North Carolina. The Ryan White CARE Act was initiated in 1990 to provide treatment and care for individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS who are in the greatest need of assistance. The Reauthorization legislation would provide more equitable distribution of CARE Act funds to emerging HIV/AIDS populations. Currently, Southern states, which account for a majority of HIV/AIDS cases in the nation, are being shortchanged in CARE Act funding.

"It is unacceptable that North Carolina's waiting list for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program has been close to 1,000 patients in recent years," Burr said. "Redistributing Ryan White funds will ensure residents of North Carolina living with HIV/AIDS will have better access to the medications and treatments they need to live. I am so pleased we were able to find a way to pass this bill. Thousands of patients need this funding."

North Carolina has approximately 18,900 people living with HIV or AIDS. In 2004, 66.7% of people living with AIDS in North Carolina were African Americans, the 5th highest rate in the nation. North Carolina currently ranks 14th among states with the greatest number of AIDS cases in the nation.

The South has been particularly hard hit by the disease in recent years, with seven of the nation's 10 highest AIDS rates located in the region. Most of the growth is occurring in the African American population, especially among African American women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 40,000 people in the United States become infected with HIV each year, and more than 1 million Americans currently have HIV/AIDS. Over 500,000 Americans have died as a result of AIDS.

"I strongly believe people suffering from HIV/AIDS, no matter where they live, should get proper medications in order to improve their health and quality of life," Burr said. "I am pleased my colleagues in the Senate recognized that this issue is about saving lives and ensuring all HIV/AIDS patients get the care they need."

This bill reauthorizes the Ryan White CARE Act for three years and Senator Burr looks forward to improving the program so North Carolinians living with HIV or AIDS will receive the best assistance possible through the CARE Act.

Senator Burr is a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

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