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Congresswoman ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN
on being the Grand Marshall of AIDS Walk Miami,
Republicans and Cuban coffee
by Herb Sosa


What does the AIDS Walk Miami mean to you, and why
did you choose to be the Grand Marshall this year?
I’m so proud that AIDS Walk Miami is a 28 year tradition
in our community which helps raise awareness and funds
to help those living with HIV/AIDS in our area, educate
more individuals, encourage testing and prevention to
continue to combat HIV/AIDS. I am honored to be Grand
Marshall this year and I hope that my participation will
inspire others to walk and contribute to this important
community event in any way they can.

How does Washington view HIV/AIDS funding for
research, medications, treatments, etc. ? What is
being done today by Congress in this field?
Recently, I was proud to host a briefing with the HIV/AIDS
Caucus along with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative
(IAVI) in order to share the recent progress in AIDS vaccine
research. Additionally, we’re working hard in Congress
on financing for bilateral and multilateral HIV/AIDS
programs, strengthening our HIV/AIDS strategy, the
Ryan White Program, and increasing our efforts to
combat this epidemic.

South Florida continues to lead the country in new
HIV cases, especially with women of color and
Hispanics. Why do you feel this is, and how can we
reverse this?
I think we need more education in all communities as
to the causes of and preventative measures for HIV/AIDS.
The more people know, the more likely it is that they will
take the necessary precautions. Any information that is
distributed should be sensitive to the community’s culture
and easy to understand in any language, as it may
sometimes be difficult to get information on this terrible
disease in a person’s native language.  

Have you personally been affected by this illness?
Family, friends, colleagues…please explain.
So many in our community have seen friends and loved ones die due to HIV/AIDS and are sadly intimately familiar with its ravages. I saw
the effects firsthand as a close friend of mine slowly began to deteriorate and pass before his time. I’m always saddened that this tragic
series of events has happened to so many before we’ve been able to find a cure.

How was your son Rodrigo helped you to evolve views on LGBT issues?
Rodrigo has certainly helped inform my opinion on LGBT issues but I think I would have reached the same conclusions given the
evidence I’ve seen. The fact of the matter is that all Americans deserve equal rights no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity.
We owe it to everyone to work for the day equality is the norm everywhere in our nation.

The perception, and much of the dialogue coming from Republican presidential nominees is very anti-LGBT rights. What is your view
on this, and how do you
agree or differ?
The only opinion I can control
is my own and I’m working
hard to set an example of
fighting for LGBT rights in
Congress. South Florida is
a diverse community and is
home to many different
viewpoints. While we may
not always agree, we should
always be respectful of each
other.

What type of shoes will you
wear on April 24th for AIDS
Walk Miami?
The tennis shoes I use to
chase our dog, Zoey, around
the yard!

You always seem to be very
full of energy & stamina.
Tell us what you have for
breakfast?
It usually depends on the
day but Cuban coffee is a
constant, an egg white
delight or pastelitos are a plus!

What are the 3 things you are proudest of, in your time (so far) in Congress?
I am most proud of the constituent service our office affords to help those in our community deal with the federal government and the
intern programs in both our DC and Miami office which offers young men and women an opportunity to witness public service firsthand.
Standing up for human rights around the world and keeping South Florida at the forefront of Congress’ priorities are just some of the
things that make me proud to be a Member of Congress.

What would you have done differently?
I’m not much of a look back kind of person, I prefer to look forward and think about how we can improve. After all, issues are decided
tomorrow, not yesterday.










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