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Gary Hall Petitions Congress For Diabetes -- March 20, 2000

By Phillip Whitten

Olympic swimmer Gary Hall, Jr. and Miss America 1999 Nicole Johnson will be among the key speakers at a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday, March 21, at 11:00 am.

The rally, expected to draw some 1,500 marchers, will present Congress with the signatures of 3.2 million people--believed to be the most ever for a health issue--who support fully funding diabetes research at the $1 billion level through the National Institutes of Health.

A panel of experts established by Congress identified last year hundreds of research opportunities that are being missed because not enough funding is appropriated for diabetes research. Experts recommended that diabetes research be funded at $827 million--advice the Congress and president did not heed.

Last year, diabetes research received only 3% of the increase in the NIH budget, versus 10% for AIDS. Sixteen million Americans have diabetes, the seventh leading cause of death in the US, and 180,000 die annually from the disease. Hall learned he had the disease last April.