Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), a stalwart leader in the fight to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic and founding member of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus, introduced the Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic Act of 2012 (H.R. 6138) on July 19, 2012, three days before the beginning of the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC. The legislation “articulates a policy and financing framework to achieve an AIDS-Free Generation in the United States and globally.” It aims to achieve this goal by increasing federal resources for HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment and targeting those resources for communities most at risk; intensifying the fight against stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS; eliminating or reforming laws that violate human rights and diminish the impact of available resources; and maximizing federal efforts to ensure optimal efficiency among HIV/AIDS programs.
The bill “establishes a system to expand targeted efforts to prevent HIV infection using a combination of effective, evidence-based approaches and accelerated research and educational reforms to addressing the epidemic at home and abroad.” In addition, it provides for distributing condoms in prisons and monitoring HIV care. The legislation also includes a five-year Global HIV/AIDS-Free Generation Strategy.
“Thirty years after the first discovery of AIDS cases, the U.S. has made tremendous progress in addressing the global and domestic crisis,” said Congresswoman Lee. “AIDS, however, remains an urgent global crisis requiring a long-term strategy and immediate action. Our hard won successes are in jeopardy and H.R. 6138, the Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic Act, is a critical measure as we recommit ourselves to fighting to end AIDS. Our charge in Congress must now be to ensure that we provide the necessary resources to address these urgent needs and ensure that this new strategy gets implemented quickly and effectively.”
The Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic Act of 2012 features a focus on increasing funding for comprehensive sexuality education. It incorporates the majority of the provisions of the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act (S. 1782, H.R. 3324), legislation designed to provide young people with the “information and skills they need to make informed, responsible, and healthy decisions in order to become sexually healthy adults and have healthy relationships.” The bill, introduced in November 2011 by Congresswoman Lee and Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), includes a Sense of Congress stating that sexuality education programs must promote healthy, safe relationships; include the most current and accurate scientific information available; enlarge the base of effective comprehensive sexuality education programs; and “promote and uphold the rights of young people to information in order to make healthy and responsible decisions about their sexual health.” The legislation also mandates that federal taxpayer dollars not fund programs that are medically inaccurate or misleading; promote gender stereotypes; stigmatize young people who are sexually active or those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT); or “are inconsistent with the ethical imperatives of medicine and public health.”
Another element of the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act that is included in the Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic Act of 2012 is a program that would provide grants for comprehensive sexuality education programs for adolescents and young people at institutions of higher learning. Grant recipients would provide programs that are medically accurate, age and developmentally appropriate, evidence-based or include elements of programs proven to change sexual behavior in young people, and inclusive of all students regardless of gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Funded programs must
- include instruction on anatomy, physiology, growth, and development
- be culturally and linguistically appropriate
- promote healthy relationships
- be sensitive to gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation
- give young people the knowledge and skills to protect themselves from dating violence, sexual assault, bullying, and harassment
- encourage educational achievement, critical thinking, decision-making, and self-efficacy; and
- foster leadership skills and community involvement
The Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic Act of 2012 also seeks specifically to eliminate a funding stream for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. It includes the text of the Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Program Funding Act of 2010 (S. 3878, H.R. 6283), also introduced by Congresswoman Lee and Senator Lautenberg, which would strike Title V, section 510 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 710) from statute. In addition to permanently eliminating this ideologically driven statute, this legislation would transfer the funding allocated for the Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage state-grant program to the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP). Instituted as part of health care reform, PREP includes a state-grant program for comprehensive sexuality education programs. Funded state programs are required to replicate or incorporate elements of programs that have proven effective at “delaying sexual activity, increasing condom or contraceptive use for sexually active youth, or reducing pregnancy among youth” and include at least three of the adulthood preparation topics enumerated in the bill: adolescent development, educational and career success, financial literacy, healthy life skills, healthy relationships, and parent-child communication.
The Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic Act of 2012 currently has 41 cosponsors.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee, “Barbara Lee Introduces Bill Providing Policy and Financing Framework to Achieve an AIDS Free Generation,” Press Release published 19 July 2012, accessed 25 July 2012, <http://lee.house.gov/press-releases/barbara-lee-introduces-bill-providing-policy-and
S. 1782, Real Education for Healthy Youth Act,112th Cong.
Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Program Funding Act of 2010, S. 3878, 111th Congress, § 2.3 (2010), accessed 15 October 2010, <http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Pub. L. No. 111–148, 124 Stat. 119, § 2593, accessed 15 October 2010, <http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111