Leader Pelosi on World AIDS Day at her weekly press conference this morning:
Today is World AIDS Day, as I am sure you’re aware. Throughout the world, people are reflecting upon the progress that has been made in the fight against AIDS and of course a commitment to doing much more to make it history instead of part of our future. And today for me as a San Franciscan in particular, I particularly want to acknowledge that this is the 20th anniversary of the AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco. If you haven’t been there, you should go. It is a sight of remembrance and renewal. It is a place that many of us and many people from around the world have come to weed the garden, to create a grove, to cry, to remember and to look to the future, the source of comfort to families who have lost their loved ones to HIV/AIDS. It is a place of community where we have had events with pink umbrellas and red ribbons and, you name it, to call attention to all that needs to be done in the future but also to remember those whom we have lost.
When I first came to Congress, my first day I was sworn in, they told me you won’t make any speeches. And the Speaker said will the gentlelady from California wish to address the House. But I was told I wasn’t supposed to speak and, if I did, not to speak long. So the one thought that I conveyed is that I was here to fight HIV/AIDS. Our city had taken a big, big bite of that wormy apple and, on the plus side, had been a source of many community-based suggestions that turned into legislation in terms of care, prevention and research. Other things followed through it, housing opportunities for people with HIV/AIDS. Again, much of the care, prevention and treatment…care prevention and research captured in the Ryan White Care Act and community-based solutions. I was very pleased to work with President Bush on PEPFAR, which has saved many, many lives throughout the world. And I was very, very pleased with President Obama’s statement this morning of a new target of helping 6 million people around the world get the treatment by the end of 2013. It is a goal, something we have to strive for. I’m also glad that he talked this morning about increasing the funding of the Ryan White care by $15 million and that the ADAP, the AIDS Drug Program, by $35 million.
One really important point to make now is the emphasis, more importantly, is on not only prevention, which is very important, but early intervention. And 2 decades ago our office was instrumental in saying that people of HIV be eligible for Medicaid, not just before it became full blown AIDS. And that was important in our country and throughout the world. That is the focus now, to sustain the quality of life of people until they are secure, and hopefully that will be soon.
So it is an emotional day. It is a day where public policy has made a difference, where Democrats and Republicans have an opportunity to work together with many on the outside. Bono, for one, who has made a tremendous difference in raising the visibility of not only a challenge, but some solutions to it.