Wednesday, January 11, 2012

GMHC Supports H.R. 2704, the JUSTICE Act, and Urges NYC Federal Reps to Cosponsor

In August 2011, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), an outstanding leader on HIV/AIDS issues, introduced H.R. 2704, the Justice for the Unprotected against Sexually Transmitted Infections among the Confined and Exposed (JUSTICE) Act. This bill allows prisons to provide condoms to incarcerated individuals. The JUSTICE Act also calls for automatic re-enrollment in Medicaid for former beneficiaries who are HIV-positive.
For HIV-positive prisoners who had either no Medicaid benefits before prison or lost their benefits, this bill would provide automatic enrollment for Medicaid.  This would substantially increase access to HIV treatment upon re-entry and would keep formerly incarcerated people living with HIV, and their communities, much healthier.
This legislation is tremendously important to public health.  On August 4, 2011, Representative Lee released a statement regarding the importance of this legislation as follows:
"As we mark the 30th anniversary of the first discovery of AIDS cases in the U.S., we can no longer afford to ignore the reality that sexually transmitted infections can be spread within our correctional system. I introduced The JUSTICE Act to provide a comprehensive response to the spread of STIs in correctional facilities."
"Among confirmed AIDS cases in prisons, minorities account for the majority, with African-Americans 3.5 times more likely than Whites, and 2.5 times more likely than Hispanics to die from AIDS-related causes. Without uniform prevention, testing, and treatment programs, incarcerated persons living with HIV or other STIs can unknowingly infect others. Often left untreated, incarcerated persons with STIs are frequently in the more advanced stages of their disease, and once released can be even more costly for the public health system to treat."
GMHC calls on all members of Congress representing New York City to cosponsor H.R. 2704, and to voice their strong support of better access to healthcare for all people living with HIV.

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