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GMHC - Fight Aids. Love Life.

Kelsey Louie's Full remarks at GMHC Gala 2016

3.23.2016

Good evening!  My name is Kelsey Louie, and I’m the proud CEO of Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

Thank you all for being here this evening, in support of GMHC, as we collectively continue our fight to end the AIDS epidemic and uplift the lives of all affected.

We have the distinct honor of having two of GMHC’s founders here with us this evening.  The Dr. Larry Mass, and the Larry Kramer. Your refusal to accept political paralysis and the early public apathy toward the AIDS plague truly changed the world.

I want to thank the current GMHC Board of Directors, led by two dynamic Co-Chairs, Michael Harwood and Robbie Kaplan. We’re also honored to be joined this evening by several GMHC Board alumni. Without all of your exceptional leadership, we would not be the remarkable organization we are today. 

To the GMHC staff, thank you for your hard work in providing life saving services every single day! I’m so proud to be part of such an incredible team.

And, none of us would be here tonight, without the courageous clients we serve, especially our long-term survivors. And to our Consumer Advisory Board, led by Manny Rivera, thank you for leading the way and inspiring us to end this plague once and for all.

I am humbled to be in the presence of tonight’s distinguished honorees!

Mary Fisher – for lifting the shroud of silence and demanding that we set aside prejudice in politics to make room for compassion and sound policy. 

Dustin Lance Black – through your brilliant work and allegiance to LGBT equality, you have built a strong foundation on which a new generation can more readily advance social justice and equal rights for all.

Louis Bradbury – a true visionary whose early insistence on the importance of testing as the gateway to early treatment and viral suppression, has forever changed the HIV and AIDS healthcare landscape.

Your bold leadership still serves as an example for the GMHC of today.  For 35 years, GMHC has been a cornerstone of HIV care, prevention, and advocacy.  As we lead the effort to end the AIDS Epidemic by 2020, we are pursuing a healthcare license to provide on-site medical services at GMHC. This will allow us to truly provide holistic care to the people we serve. You’ve already heard about our impressive statistic of viral suppression among people who test positive at GMHC—90%.  With our own healthcare practice, we can capture that remaining 10% who continue to drive the epidemic. 

As we continue to move forward, I’m happy to share some exciting news with you!  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.

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 are infected. Much translation 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 science into policy is required when irreversible disease progression is an absurd prerequisite to house a homeless person living with HIV.

 
Translating science into policy is required when federal agencies are still siloed, as if prevention is not treatment and treatment is not prevention.

Translating statistics into action is required when the same inequities in access to treatment are repeated again and again in access to PrEP, for Black men who sex with men, and high risk women.

Translating statistics into action is required when 25% of all Latino MSM, and 50% of all Black MSM are projected to contract HIV during their lifetime.

Translating statistics into action is required when Trans women of color are disproportionately impacted by HIV, approximately 60%. And by the way, we all know that we need better statistics about our Trans brothers and sisters.

Translating mere hope for 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! End AIDS!! Live Life!!!

 

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