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Kennedy's Contributions to HIV/AIDS, Gay Rights Policies Recalled

August 27, 2009

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who died Tuesday, is being remembered as "the most powerful voice in the Senate for gay rights, as a strong supporter of HIV/AIDS funding, hate crimes legislation and same-sex marriage," the Associated Press reports. According to the AP, "Kennedy was an early advocate for AIDS research and treatment, securing federal funding so patients could have easier access to experimental drugs, expanded home care and outpatient mental health care" (Lavoie, 8/27). The Los Angeles Times reports that Kennedy "worked with Republicans to gain passage of a number of landmark measures," including "the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act, which his office says created the 'single largest federal program for people with HIV/AIDS' " in the U.S. (Simon, 8/27).

Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said in a press release, "Since the beginning of the epidemic ... Kennedy has been a consistent, unwavering leader and architect of enlightened AIDS policy and funding." Kennedy, he added, "was a true champion of people without a voice, and we mourn him today as one of the most reliable soldiers in the ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS" (AHF release, 8/26).

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