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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 18, 1998

                            December 18, 1998

Today, President Clinton will announce the release of $479 million in new Ryan White funding to improve primary health care and supportive services for people with HIV/AIDS. The President will unveil these grants in a meeting with his Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS where he will hear a report on their work and seek their advice on ways to improve the Nation's response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Today the President will:

Announce new Title I grants for Ryan White. The President will announce that $479 million in grants is being released today under Title I of the Ryan White CARE Act to fund primary health care and supportive services for people living with HIV/AIDS. These grants serve low-income individuals and families in 50 eligible metropolitan areas hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic. These grants include special funds targeting African-Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities.

Work with the community to improve the Nation's response to HIV/AIDS. The President, accompanied by Sandra Thurman, Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, will meet with his Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS to hear a report on their work and their advice on ways to improve the Nation's response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The President will urge the Council to work with Congress to take new steps in the fight against HIV/AIDS, including passing a strong enforceable patients' bill of rights, passing the Jeffords-Kennedy legislation that helps people with disabilities access affordable health care coverage so they can return to work, and enhancing efforts to find an AIDS vaccine.

The President's Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS was created by the President in 1995 to provide guidance on the Nation's efforts to care for those living with HIV/AIDS, to stop the spread of the disease, and to improve vaccine and treatment research. It is chaired by Dr. Scott Hitt, a physician from Los Angeles specializing in AIDS care. The Council has 35 members, 13 of whom are HIV-positive and 13 of whom are persons of color. They come from around the country, sharing a broad range of perspectives that reflect the diversity of the epidemic.

Build on recent efforts to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Today's activities build on a deep ongoing commitment by the Clinton/Gore Administration to respond to the AIDS crisis both in the United States and across the world. The Administration has fought for other critical investments in HIV/AIDS. In the last few months alone, the President:

Unveiled new initiative on World AIDS Day 1998 to address the crisis of AIDS orphans and international HIV/AIDS. The President joined Secretary Albright and USAID Administrator Atwood to unveil a new initiative including: a 12 percent increase in NIH AIDS research funding, $200 million (a 33 percent increase) in HIV vaccine research, a $10 million effort to address the growing crisis of AIDS orphans in developing nations, and a fact-finding delegation to Africa by Sandra Thurman, Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy.

Declared HIV/AIDS in racial and ethnic minority communities to be a severe and ongoing health care crisis and unveiled a new $156 million initiative to address this problem, including crisis response teams, enhanced prevention efforts, and assistance in accessing state-of-the-art therapies, all targeted toward ethnic and racial minorities in communities across the country;

Worked with Congress to secure historic increases in a wide range of effective HIV/AIDS programs. Increases this year alone include: a $262 million increase in Ryan White CARE Act funds; a 12-percent increase in AIDS research funding at the NIH; a $32 million increase in HIV prevention programs at the CDC; and a $21 million increase in the Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS program at HUD.

A solid record of progress in HIV/AIDS. The Clinton/Gore Administration has a proud record of accomplishment in its response to HIV/AIDS, including:

Increasing funding for major HIV/AIDS programs by over 100 percent:

Protecting Medicaid and Social Security. The President fought to preserve the guarantee of coverage under Medicaid, which serves more than 50 percent of people living with AIDS -- and 92 percent of children with AIDS -- who rely on Medicaid for health coverage. He also revised eligibility rules for Social Security Disability Insurance to increase the number of HIV-positive persons who qualify for benefits.

Focusing National Efforts on an AIDS Vaccine. In May of 1997, the President challenged the nation to develop an AIDS vaccine within the next ten years. He announced a number of initiatives to help fulfill this goal, including: dedicating an AIDS vaccine research center at the National Institutes of Health and encouraging domestic and international collaboration among governments, medical communities and service organizations. On World AIDS Day 1998, the President announced $200 million in funding for vaccine research at the NIH, a $47 million (33 percent) increase over the previous fiscal year.

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