Need support, need to talk? Call 1-800-243-7692
GMHC - Fight Aids. Love Life.

GMHC's Response to President Trump's Pledge to End AIDS

2.6.2019

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, February 6, 2019

 

Media Contact:
Cub Barrett: VP, Communications and Public Affairs, GMHC
212-367-1561 | CubB@GMHC.org
 

GMHC’s Response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Pledge to End AIDS in the United States by 2030

 

 By Kelsey Louie, CEO, Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)

"Scientific breakthroughs have brought a once-distant dream within reach. My budget will ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years. We have made incredible strides. Together, we will defeat AIDS in America and beyond."– President Donald Trump, State of the Union, February 5, 2019

GMHC has long said that, with the needed investments and the political will, we could end the AIDS epidemic. President Trump on Tuesday night seemed to acknowledge that we wouldn’t accomplish that goal until we, as a country, committed to the cause.

So: let’s commit. Today, we’re calling on President Trump to stick to his pledge. But what will that require?

First and foremost: If we’re going to succeed, President Trump and his Administration need to take a hard, non-partisan look at the facts of the epidemic—and roll back policies that actively hurt, denigrate, or marginalize people who need our help.

New York City and New York State have boldly invested in evidence-based, data-driven strategies to bring down the number of new HIV infections, both through test-and-treat protocols for those who are newly diagnosed and aggressive prevention campaigns. Last year, GMHC tested more than 4,000 New Yorkers for HIV, referring hundreds of negative folks to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) while also linking 100% of those who tested positive to immediate medical care.

As a result of our efforts and the efforts of our partners, New York realized record-low HIV infection rates in 2017—the most recent year for which we have data.

That’s not by chance. That’s because city and state officials, collaborating with local service and advocacy organizations like GMHC, have worked toward this goal. We have recognized the importance of not just targeting, but actively caring for, at-risk populations, including people of color, LGBT people, and immigrants—people this Administration has routinely attacked through legislation, executive orders, threats, and nasty tweets. Compassion, caring, and hope are integral to our successful approach. Unfortunately, we see every day how scared so many of our clients are because of the way the President and his policies threaten them, driving many of them further into the shadows and away from the care they so desperately need.

If President Trump is serious about ending the AIDS epidemic in the United States by 2030, his Administration needs to follow the data on a larger scale and both enact and support policies consistent with our shared goal. The data tell us many things—one of the most important being that access to regular, quality health care is critical. More people—and more people who are at high risk of HIV infection, including many at-risk populations the President has routinely denigrated–need access to this kind of care. They need access to every prevention tool we have in our arsenal, especially PrEP. And, if they’re living with HIV, they need access to medication they can afford to suppress their viral load so that they can get healthy and not pass on the virus.

So, President Trump: Are you willing to commit to this strategy? Can you follow the evidence despite your history of ignoring science? Can you work with organizations that represent some of the most marginalized groups in America? Can you work with Congress to keep provisions of the Affordable Care Act and other health programs that cover the kinds of medications people need to get and stay healthy?

We’re skeptical. But, in the interest of our mission, we want to believe this is possible.

GMHC has been fighting the AIDS epidemic and saving lives for more than 35 years. We’re ready to work with the President to help him achieve his goal to end AIDS by 2030. But we know, based on our experience, that he’s not going to be able to keep his pledge if he doesn’t follow the data, trust the science, display compassion for the most at-risk populations, and set aside many of the prejudices he has inflamed since taking office.

“We do the incredible,” he said near the end of his speech. “We defy the impossible.” To us, and to many of our supporters, some of the actions by this Administration have defied logic and common decency. But in this instance, we hope President Trump will rise to the challenge.

So: Mr. President. Let’s defy the impossible. Let’s do the incredible. If you’re serious about what you said, let’s work together to commit to end this epidemic once and for all.

GMHC can’t do this work alone. If you’d like to support our groundbreaking work in ending the epidemic, please contribute today by clicking HERE.

 

###

About Gay Men's Health Crisis: Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) is the world's first HIV/AIDS service organization. GMHC is on the front lines providing services to more than 13,000 people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Programs include testing, prevention, nutrition, legal, supportive housing, mental health, and substance use services. GMHC also advocates for stronger public policies at the local, state, and federal levels with the goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic. For more information, visit www.gmhc.org.