In a statement recognizing World AIDS Day, President Joe Biden highlighted the HIV/AIDS epidemic’s disproportionate impact on LGBTQ people — marking a departure from the consistent erasure in the Trump administration’s annual statements.
Every year since 1988, World AIDS Day has been recognized internationally on Dec. 1 as an opportunity to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS, to remember those who have lost their lives to it, and to treat those living with HIV with dignity and compassion.
“This year on World AIDS Day, we are focused on addressing health inequities and inequalities and ensuring that the voices of people with HIV are at the center of our work to end the HIV epidemic globally,” Biden said in his statement, committing to helping end the epidemic by 2030.
While “remarkable progress” has been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS, Biden said, “the disease remains a serious public health challenge.”
Since the HIV was first diagnosed 40 years ago, more than 36 million people, including 700,000 Americans, have died from AIDS-related illnesses. Nearly 38 million people around the globe live with HIV around the world.
Biden noted in his proclamation that the COVID-19 pandemic has not only interrupted HIV research but also “highlighted the work that still remains to achieve equitable access to HIV prevention, care, and treatment in every community — particularly for communities of color, adolescent girls and young women, and the LGBTQI+ community.”
“My Administration remains steadfast in our efforts to end the HIV epidemic, confront systems and policies that perpetuate entrenched health inequities, and build a healthier world for all people,” Biden said.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also noted in a statement the toll of HIV/AIDS on the LGBTQ community, saying the epidemic is “often fueled by deep disparities in access to life-saving HIV services solely because of who you are, where you live, or whom you love.”
Earlier this year, Biden reinstated the White House Office of National AIDS Policy. Biden also said that his administration has diversified and strengthened the Presidential Advisory Council and HIV/AIDS, that he is requesting $670 million to support the Department of Health and Human Services’ Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. Initiative, and pointed to an updated national strategy to reduce inequities, expand access to HIV-prevention tools, and encourage reform of state HIV criminalization laws.
Worldwide, through nearly $100 billion invested in the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief, the administration is working with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and other partners “toward the goal of ending the HIV epidemic everywhere,” Biden said.
Ending the HIV epidemic is within our reach, and we are committed to finishing this work. On World AIDS Day, we rededicate ourselves to building on the progress of the last 4 decades; upholding and advancing human rights; supporting research, science, and data-driven solutions; expanding access to housing, education, and economic empowerment; and fighting stigma and discrimination,” Biden continued.
“No one living with HIV should suffer the undeserved guilt and prejudice that too many continue to experience. We must innovate and explore new ways to help address HIV/AIDS in communities here at home and around the world.”
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