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GMHC - Fight Aids. Love Life.

Kelsey Louie's 2016 AWNY Speech

5.15.2016

Good Morning, New York! My name is Kelsey Louie and I am the proud CEO of Gay Men’s Health Crisis!

On behalf of the staff, board, and clients of GMHC, I want to thank all of you for being here today for the 31st Annual AIDS Walk New York, the largest single-day AIDS fundraising event in the world.

Let us once again acknowledge our incredible corporate sponsors: Delta Air Lines; Bristol-Myers Squibb; Quest Diagnostics; Gilead Sciences; AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and Duane Reade.  Your generous financial support is proof of your resolute commitment to ending the AIDS epidemic.

I also want to thank the GMHC Board of Directors, led by our wonderful Co-Chairs, Michael Harwood and Robbie Kaplan. Your extraordinary leadership helps make GMHC the great organization we are today…stronger than ever!  

To the GMHC staff, thank you for providing life-saving services every single day.  Your dedication is truly inspiring and I am so proud to lead such an amazing team! 

And, NONE of us would be here today, without the brave clients we serve, especially our long term survivors. And to our Consumer Advisory Board, led by Manny Rivera, thank you for leading the way in our valiant fight for a cure!  

Thank you to the elected officials and AIDS activists who are here with us today. Your demand for policies that ensure equal rights for ALL people, regardless of HIV status, is paramount in making AIDS history.

I also want to thank the entire AIDS Walk New York team, led by the fearless Craig Miller. Craig organized the first AIDS Walk New York in 1985, and has been leading the effort ever since.  You are a true hero!

35 years ago…the CDC reported an alarming occurrence of a “rare cancer” in otherwise healthy gay men.  35 years ago…the New York Times published the first article on this “rare cancer” seen in 41 gay men. And 35 years ago…80 men gathered in Larry Kramer’s apartment to address this problem and raise money for research. This meeting provided the foundation of what has become Gay Men’s Health Crisis. And ever since that fateful meeting, GMHC has been a cornerstone of HIV care, prevention and advocacy. Because of YOU, because of YOUR compassion, because of YOUR dedication, we have come SO far!

To all of you, Merci! Domo Arigato! Gracias! Some things don’t need translation, but some things do. SOMETIMES translation is required to ensure the same meaning for all. Advances in HIV have NOT had the same meaning for all who areinfected. Much translation is required so that the advances of science and medicine CAN have the SAME meaning for all.

Translating science into POLICY, is REQUIRED when we HAVE the tools to suppress the virus and prevent transmission, but only one-third of people living with HIV have undetectable viral loads.

Translating statistics into ACTION, is REQUIRED when 25% of all Latino men who have sex with men, and 50% of all Black men who have sex with men are projected to contract HIV during their life time. Translating hope for merely ending the epidemic into a COMMITMENT TO A CURE is REQUIRED when the NIH decides to keep funding for cure research FLAT.

Translating headlines into REAL RESOURCES is REQUIRED when flashy press events, hosted by politicians, do not yield the budgeted dollars promised.
We need to translate science into policy, statistics into action, hope into commitment, and headlines into real resources.

Nothing but a COMPLETE victory and an ERADICATED virus is enough! As we continue to move forward, we have made three simple, but MEANINGFUL changes to our logo. First, we are honoring our past by using the color RED, the TRADITIONAL color of HIV and AIDS.  Second, we are changing “Fight AIDS” to “END AIDS”, because THAT is our goal—to END AIDS once and for all.  And third, we are changing “Love Life” to “LIVE Life”, as all of our services are geared towards helping people LIVE full and rewarding lives, regardless of their HIV status. And now, to tell you about how we are accomplishing BOTH of these goals, thanks to YOUR help, some of the wonderful staff and clients of GMHC.

  • “END AIDS!” GMHC Ensures access to PrEP and PEP, powerful HIV prevention medications. (April)

  • GMHC provides over 3,000 HIV tests each year so more people know their status (Seth)

  • GMHC advocates at all levels of the government to demand more funds and access to treatment. (Rhonda)

  • GMHC insists that we remember our collective goal must be nothing short of a cure (Pedro)

  • “LIVE LIFE!” I have friends and counselors at GMHC I can turn to for support (Connie)

  • GMHC helped me find a job so I can support my family (Alan)

  • GMHC helped me realize I’m not alone (John)

  • GMHC helps me thrive (Ron)

Only if we walk TOGETHER, can we finally end this epidemic…once and for all!  END AIDS! LIVE LIFE!  

Thank you!