Ovarian Cancer Awareness
On September 23, the House approved, by unanimous consent, a resolution sponsored by Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), supporting the goals and ideals of National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (H. Res. 671). The same day, the Senate approved, also by unanimous consent, an identical resolution (S. Res. 678) sponsored by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
The resolutions contain a number of findings, including:
- ovarian cancer is the deadliest of all gynecological cancers, and the reported incidence of ovarian cancer is increasing over time;
- all women are at risk for ovarian cancer, and 90 percent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer do not have a family history that puts them at higher risk for the disease;
- there is currently no reliable and easy-to-administer screening test used for the early detection of ovarian cancer;
- due to the lack of a reliable screening test, 75 percent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed in an advanced stage when the five-year survival rate is below 30 percent;
- many people are unaware that the symptoms of ovarian cancer often include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and urinary symptoms, among several other symptoms that are easily confused with other diseases;
- there are factors that are known to reduce the risk for ovarian cancer and play an important role in the prevention of the disease; and
- awareness and early recognition of ovarian cancer symptoms are currently the best way to save women’s lives.
House Marks Anniversary of Minority AIDS Initiative
On September 27, the House passed, by unanimous consent, H. Con. Res. 426, a resolution recognizing the tenth anniversary of the Minority AIDS Initiative, after adopting, also by unanimous consent, a substitute amendment by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ).
Sponsored by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), the resolution includes a number of findings, including:
- there are more than 14,000 AIDS-related deaths every year in the United States;
- approximately one in four of the people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States do not know they are infected;
- African Americans account for about half of the new AIDS cases, although approximately 13 percent of the population as a whole is black, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that African Americans accounted for 45 percent of new HIV infections in 2006;
- Hispanic Americans account for 19 percent of new AIDS cases, although only 15 percent of the population as a whole is Hispanic, and the CDC estimates that Hispanic Americans accounted for 17 percent of new HIV infections in 2006;
- Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders account for one percent of new AIDS cases, and Native Americans and Alaskan Natives account for up to one percent of new AIDS cases;
- approximately 70 percent of new AIDS cases are racial and ethnic minorities; and
- the purpose of the Minority AIDS Initiative is to enable community-based organizations and health care providers in minority communities to improve their capacity to deliver culturally and linguistically approved HIV/AIDS care and services.
The substitute amendment, among other things, would encourage the CDC “to appropriately address populations significantly impacted by HIV/AIDS, not only through the Minority AIDS Initiative, but through all available programs.”
The resolution “recognizes and commemorates the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the Minority AIDS Initiative” and “commends the efforts of community-based organizations and health care providers” in providing HIV/AIDS care and services.
Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
On September 23, the House passed, by voice vote, H. Res. 1227, a resolution condemning sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and calling on the international community to take immediate actions to respond to the violence.
Sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), the resolution contains a number of findings, including:
- the situation in eastern DRC has been recognized as the worst crisis of violence against women in the world, according to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women;
- the DRC has experienced the world’s deadliest crisis since World War II, with an estimated 5.4 million deaths since 1998. Hundreds of thousands of women and girls have experienced exceptionally violent types of rape in the DRC and the full extent of incidence of sexual violence is unknown, as most survivors experience repeated rapes, live in inaccessible areas, are afraid to report the attacks, or did not survive them;
- on July 30, 2007, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women reported, “Women are brutally gang-raped, often in front of their families and communities. In numerous cases, male relatives are forced at gun point to rape their own daughters, mothers, or sisters. Frequently women are shot or stabbed in their genital organs after they are raped. Women who survived months of enslavement [said] that their tormentors had forced them to eat excrement or the human flesh of murdered relatives”;
- some women and young girls reportedly have had their lips or tongues cut off by their attackers so that they won’t report the crime to authorities;
- the scope of the sexual violence affects women and girls of all ages, from 10 months to 80 years old [and] a culture of impunity continues in eastern Congo as rape has become a societal norm; and
- the United States government has codified its commitment to the DRC through the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-456).
“We Don’t Serve Teens” Campaign
On September 23, the House passed, by voice vote, H. Res. 1042, a resolution supporting the “We Don’t Serve Teens” campaign.
Sponsored by Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), the resolution “commends the leadership and continuing efforts of all groups working to reduce such underage drinking” and contains a number of findings, including:
- the 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, estimates there are 11 million underage alcoholic beverage drinkers in the United States;
- research shows that young people who start drinking alcoholic beverages before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop an alcohol-related disorder later in life;
- the surgeon general issued a national call to action against underage drinking in March 2007, asking Americans to do more to stop current underage drinkers from using alcohol and to keep other youth from starting to drink alcohol before the age of 21;
- the best protections against underage drinking are comprehensive prevention and enforcement strategies that include educating parents and members of the community; and
- the goal of the “We Don’t Serve Teens” campaign is to educate parents and community leaders about effective ways of reducing underage drinking,
- and the campaign seeks to unite state officials, business leaders, parents, and community leaders in fighting underage drinking.
Senate Honors Irena Sendler
On September 22, the Senate passed, by unanimous consent, a resolution (S. Con. Res. 96) honoring Irena Sendler. The House passed a similar resolution (H. Con. Res. 361) on July 30 (see The Source, 8/1/08).
Sponsored by Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), the resolution “mourns the loss of Irena Sendler, a woman whose bravery and heroic efforts saved over 2,500 Jewish children during the Holocaust…honors the legacy of courage, selflessness, and hope that [she] exhibited; and remembers [her] life and unwavering dedication to justice and human rights.”