Barack Obama – Credit: Pete Souza/White House
“An AIDS-free generation is within reach.”
—President Barack Obama, in a press release. Thirty-five years after the first reported case of HIV/AIDS in America, President Barack Obama released a statement commemorating the anniversary, addressing the stigma surrounding the disease and the deaths that resulted in the lack of action. “We’ve learned that stigma and silence don’t just fuel ignorance. They foster transmission and give life to a plague,” he said. “We’ve seen that testing, treatment, education, and acceptance can not only save and extend lives, but fight the discrimination that halted progress for too long.”
The disease was first noticed in a report released by the Center for Disease Control on June 5, 1981, investigating the “unusual” death of five gay men from a type of pneumonia found only in weakened immune systems. The President commended the progress that has been made since that initial report and highlighted the development of PrEP as a “revolutionary tool” in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
However, HIV/AIDS still infects more than 1.2 million people, with gay, bisexual men being the most susceptible to the disease. Those living in the South are at even greater risks, with HIV infections rising rapidly among gay, bisexual men in the south.
The President concluded the press release stating “I’m confident that if we build upon the steps we’ve taken, we can finish the job…. [A]n AIDS-free generation is within reach, and today, the global community is committed to ending this epidemic by 2030.”
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