A coalition of Iowa groups is pushing federal lawmakers to modernize the “Ryan White CARE Act” — which is legislation that deals with the treatment of AIDS. Ako Abdul-Samad runs “Creative Visions,” an organization in Des Moines that helps African Americans. Abdul-Samad says the latest stats from 2004 show an AIDS problem in Iowa. He says twenty-three-point-four percent of the new cases reported nationally were in Iowa, and 18-percent of those cases were African-Americans — mostly females.
Ryan White as a Caucasian boy who died from AIDS after contracting the disease through a blood transfusion. Abdul-Samad says White isn’t the type of person who gets AIDS today. He says 16 years ago when the act was created, the disease didn’t impact the minority community, and Abdul-Samad says they were still trying to find out where the disease came from. He says now the demographics have changed, and the legislation needs to change.
Abdul-Samad says the big change needs to come in providing funding for minorities for drug treatment of AIDS. Abdul-Samad equates it to Medicare where the elderly are worried about eating and paying for their heating and don’t have the money for drugs. He says minorities who contract AIDS are facing the same problem.
Abdul-Samad says the state should run an awareness campaign about the AIDS problem. He says, “We have to educate people where to go to get the help. But you know, it’s not enough to just say ‘abstain.’ Because if that was enough, it would have worked a long time ago. People are not abstaining. Young people are not abstaining, we’re in a sexually active world. And we need to address it and educate people on that fact.”
Black Hawk County Supervisor Leon Mosley joined Abdul-Samad and said it’s a problem for democrats, and his own republican party. Mosley says it has nothing to do with your party affiliation or where you live in the state, as he says it will affect everyone. Mosley says Iowans need to contact legislators and others to push for the change. He says, “We hope and know, that our own Senators, Grassley and Harkin, as well as the many presidential candidates visiting Iowa will take note and work to address this issue of H-I-V and AIDS. Epidemic that’s in Iowa and throughout rural America.” Abdul-Samad and Mosley made their comments at the statehouse in Des Moines.