Today, June 30 is the annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Reception at the White House. On this occasion, 244 leaders from the HIV/AIDS community have released and open letter thanking those in the LBGT community who stood up and recommitted to the fight against HIV/AIDS over the last year.
The LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities have always shared a common history, with the month of June holding particular significance to both. We must remember that just as our histories are closely intertwined, so too is our future. Despite our multitude of policy successes, we have failed to make any real progress in the fight against HIV in our community. Gay and bisexual men are the only population experiencing rising rates of HIV infection, with young black gay men carrying the heaviest burden of any population in the country. We cannot truly achieve victory in our struggle for equality until we have also achieved LGBT health equity, including an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The fight against HIV started in the LGBT community. The only way we will end it is the same way, united in the struggle to protect the health and lives of LGBT individuals across the country and the globe.
The text of the letter can be read below. The full letter, with signatures, can be download here.
June 30, 2014
Dear LGBT Community,
On the occasion of President Obama’s annual LGBT Pride Reception, leaders from the HIV/AIDS community appreciate and say thank you to those LGBT leaders who stood up and recommitted to the fight against HIV/AIDS.
One year ago, leaders in the LGBT community wrote a Declaration to the community asking them to recommit to the fight against HIV/AIDS. Over 1000 leaders signed the Declaration and many local, regional and national organizations disseminated it via listserves, newsletters and social media.Since the release of the Declaration, there has been a significant increase in our community’s discussion about the disease. We’ve seen editorials, newsletter articles, staff trainings, workshops and plenaries at annual meetings, and a host of other activities to raise awareness about HIV within the LGBT community.
Our work is far from over, but last year was an important step forward and we look forward to working collaboratively to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in America. However, even as we work to stop new HIV infections, there are still over one million Americans living with HIV. Our fight must continue until we find a cure.
Over the next year, it’s our hope that together we can combat HIV criminalization, fight stigma that keeps many people with HIV living in fear, provide sexual health education for LGBT youth, and ensure access to healthcare for the LGBT community via the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion, and remain committed to finding a cure.
Science and policy have aligned like never before to make it possible to envision an AIDS-free generation. That vision will not be realized without addressing the persistent and disparate impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. Thank you for all that you’ve done and for all that you will do. Happy Pride America!