NMAC, the national HIV/AIDS advocacy organization, will honor U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) for their longstanding commitment to fighting the HIV epidemic.
The organization, which focuses on bending the curve of new HIV infections among communities of color and ensuring that people living with HIV within those communities stay in treatment, will honor Pelosi and Lee for their decades long efforts passing legislation to combat the virus.
Both lawmakers will be honored at the inaugural Hill Champion Awards for Minority Health during a virtual ceremony on Dec. 1, which is also Worlds AIDS Day.
The awards were established as part of an effort to grow NMAC’s presence and influence on Capitol Hill, in order to remind members of Congress to prioritize funding and legislation that comports with the “Ending the HIV Epidemic” initiative, and to avoid pursuing drastic cuts that could deal a setback to efforts to curb infection rates.
Pelosi will be awarded the John Lewis Good Trouble Award, named in honor of the late Georgia congressman.
The award will be presented by U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume, the former president and CEO of the NAACP and a longtime colleague of Lewis’ dating back to his first stint in Congress from 1987 to 1996.
Lee will be honored with the Elijah Cummings Award for Minority Health Equality, named in honor of the longtime Baltimore-area congressman who was an advocate for those affected by the disease.
The award will be presented by the late congressman’s widow, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings.
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn will also speak at the event, which is free to attend.
“It’s a tremendous honor to recognize Speaker Pelosi and Congresswoman Lee for their tremendous and ongoing work in the fight against HIV,” Paul Kawata, the executive director of NMAC, said in a statement. “It’s also great pleasure to memorialize two other heroes whom we have lost in the last few years: Congressman Elijah Cummings and Congressman John Lewis. Both of them were great allies to NMAC and the HIV community over their time in office. They are and will always be greatly missed. We are thrilled to have this ongoing recognition for them.”
Pelosi was elected in 1987 on a pledge to prioritize funding to combat the spread of AIDS, which ravaged her San Francisco-based district in the 1980s.
The House Speaker has long been an ally of the HIV/AIDS community and has used her influence as Democratic leader to ensure that Congress appropriates the money needed to combat the HIV epidemic.
Lee, who represents the Oakland and Berkeley areas in Congress, is the current co-chair of the HIV/AIDS Caucus, and has used her position of the bipartisan caucus to support legislation and ensure funding for initiatives such as the Ryan White CARE Act, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
“NMAC wanted to thank and honor Speaker Pelosi and Congresswoman Lee for all they have done against tremendous obstacles,” NMAC Director of Government Relations and Public Policy Joe Huang-Racalto said in a statement. “They’ve had to fight against everything from apathy to ignorance to outright bigotry to help us accomplish all that we have in the fight against HIV. And we will need their leadership and determination to help us end the epidemic in the next decade.”
NMAC’s World AIDS Day 2020 event honoring the first-ever Hill Champion Award recipients will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 4 p.m. EST. To attend, register at https://rb.gy/1tujzd.
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