In recent years, the number of HIV cases among minority women has grown at alarming rates, and the escalating problem must be addressed. Health care reformers have concluded that the Ryan White CARE Act should fund programs to address the needs of those with HIV disease, not just those with AIDS, the end-stage of HIV infection.

On March 2, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee conducted a hearing on the reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act. The IWF believes in a reformed Ryan White CARE Act, one that will:

  • focus greater efforts on prevention of this deadly disease by requiring partner notification, and;

  • count all who are infected with HIV, not just those with AIDs, providing more accurate numbers so that we may better fight this disease.

Because it is always important to illustrate the link between congressional activity and the very real impact on human lives, the IWF sought out women from the Baltimore Johnson Square HIV/AIDS Day Care Center who could share their story of a daily battle with HIV infection. Barbara Ledeen, IWF Senior VP for External Relations, secured an opportunity for the women to meet with Sen. Jim Jeffords (R-VT). Rosemary Ramroop and Heather Harrison, HIV-positive mothers, spoke to the senator, reflecting on the importance of partner notification, and the positive difference it would have made in their lives. The group then moved to the Cannon House Office Building to meet with Rep. Tom Coburn (R-OK), a long-time advocate of reforming AIDS policy.

Stay tuned, this continues to be an issue of importance to all of those affected by this deadly disease.