New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is sponsoring a bill that would help fight against HIV/AIDS in African American communities.

Gillibrand introduced her National Black Clergy for the Elimination of HIV/AIDS of 2009 in the Senate on Thursday. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions.

“HIV/AIDS continues to have a devastating impact on African Americans, particularly young women who make up a disproportionate share of newly diagnosed cased,” Gillibrand said in a statement. “This legislation provides federal investments in early prevention and access to affordable care that are needed to combat this horrible disease. By investing these critical resources, we can help protect some of those most vulnerable and save lives.”

New York Representative Charles Rangel authored and introduced the measure in the House last April.

Rangel said the bill recognizes “the important role of faith-based communities in fighting the AIDS epidemic.”

The Gillibrand-Rangel bill has its roots in a 2007 National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA) sponsored gathering that brought together clergy, lawmakers and medical professionals to address the disproportionate HIV rate of infection in African American communities. Young Black women account for an alarming 69% of new cases in New York City, a recent report found.

“Senator Gillibrand's action demonstrates her commitment to addressing the devastating HIV/AIDS public health crisis that disproportionately impacts African Americans nationwide,” C. Virginia Fields, president and CEO of NBLCA, said in a statement.

The bill would offer a comprehensive approach to combat HIV/AIDS with new education initiatives, greater access to affordable health care and help for at-risk youth.