House of Representatives
June 13, 2002
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman
from South Carolina (Mr. Wilson) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. WILSON of South Carolina.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to draw attention to Huntington's Disease which
affects approximately 30,000 people in the United States. Each child of a parent with Huntington's Disease has a 50 percent
risk of inheriting the illness, meaning that there are 200,000 individuals who are at risk today. Huntington's Disease results
from a genetically programmed degeneration of nerve cells in certain parts of the brain.
While medication is available to help control
the symptoms of Huntington's Disease, sadly, there is no treatment to stop or reverse the course of the disease. According
to the Huntington's Disease Society of America, this disease is named for Dr. George Huntington who first described
this hereditary disorder
in 1872. Huntington's Disease is now recognized as one of the more common genetic disorders
in America. Huntington's Disease affects as many people as hemophilia, cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy.
Early symptoms of Huntington's Disease may affect cognitive ability or mobility
and include depression, mood swings, forgetfulness, clumsiness, involuntary twitching, and lack of coordination. As
the disease progresses, concentration and short-term memory diminish and involuntary movements of the head, trunk and limbs
increase. Walking, speaking, and swallowing abilities deteriorate. Eventually the person is unable to care for himself
or herself. Death follows from complications such as choking, infection, or heart failure.
Huntington's Disease typically begins in mid-life between the ages of 30 and 45, though onset may occur as early as the age
of 2. Children who develop the juvenile form of the disease rarely live to adulthood. Huntington's Disease affects men
and women equally and crosses all ethnic and racial boundaries. Everyone who carries the gene will develop the disease. In
1993, the Huntington's Disease gene was isolated and a direct genetic test developed which can accurately determine whether
a person carries the Huntington's
I would like to commend Dr. Ruth Abramson of Columbia,
South Carolina for her leadership and dedication for conducting ongoing research to find a cure for Huntington's Disease at
both the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and the South Carolina Department of Mental Health. I also want to
commend my chief of staff, Eric Dell, and his courageous mother, Ouida Dell, for their efforts in fighting Huntington's Disease within their family.
I encourage the American people to
be aware of their own family histories, to be aware of the issues in genetic testing, and to advocate for families with Huntington's
Disease in their communities. I also call on my colleagues in the House to join in this effort
to find a cure for those suffering from this disease.
To that extent, I would like to read this
concurrent resolution about Huntington's Disease which I have introduced in the House of
"Concurrent resolution. Whereas about 30,000 people in
the United States suffer from Huntington's Disease; whereas each child of a parent with Huntington's Disease has a 50 percent
risk of inheriting the illness; around 200,000 individuals are at risk; whereas Huntington's Disease results from a genetically
programmed degeneration of nerve cells in certain parts of the
brain; whereas this degeneration causes uncontrolled movements, loss of intellectual faculties,
and emotional disturbances; whereas presymptomatic testing is available for those with a family history of Huntington's Disease,
and medication is available to help control the symptoms, yet there is no treatment to stop or reverse the course of the disease;
whereas Congress as an institution and Members of Congress as individuals are in unique positions to help raise public awareness
about the need for increased funding for research, detection, and treatment of Huntington's Disease and to support the fight against this disease:
"Now, therefore, be it resolved by the House
of Representatives (the Senate concurring), that it is the sense of the Congress that subsection 1, all Americans should take
an active role in the fight against Huntington's Disease by any means available to them, including being aware of their own
family history, being aware of the issues in genetic testing, and advocating for families with Huntington's Disease in their communities and their States;
"Section 2, the role played by national community
organizations and health care providers in promoting awareness should be recognized and applauded;
"And section 3, the Federal Government has a responsibility to, A, endeavor to raise awareness about the detection and treatment
of Huntington's Disease; and B, increase funding for research so that a cure might be found."
Mr. Speaker, as May marked Huntington's Disease Awareness Month, we must do everything possible to ensure we search out hope
for thousands of Americans by finding a cure for this disease.
To thank either Congress Wilson see below. To contact your State representative in support
of Congressman Wilson's Huntington's Disease Resolution
go to Advocacy/Media/Donation Information