Join Our Capitol Hill Champions Reception for World AIDS Day

America does not feel safe. The radical right has weaponized my existence so there is a bounty on my head, and that of everyone who is different. Club Q was another on a long list of mass shootings. Nothing makes sense and everyone is afraid. The Right hates the Left, the Left hates the Right, and people are being killed. Thursday is World AIDS Day and there are events across the world. I pray for our safety because we cannot hide and must fight. Join us in person or online. RSVP for the briefing and/or the free reception at RSVP@NMAC.org.

Congress of the United States
Washington, D.C. 20515
November 21, 2022

Minority AIDS Initiative Briefing
Thursday, December 1, 2022, 9:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
Followed by a reception, 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
2359 Rayburn House Office Building

Dear Colleague:

By now, you should have received an invitation to NMAC’s World AIDS Day briefing on the Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI). The briefing will be held on Thursday, December 1, 2022, from 9:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. in 2359 RHOB. Immediately following the briefing, NMAC will host a reception honoring Members of Congress for their contribution towards ending the HIV epidemic. The reception will take place from 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. in the same room.

Racial and ethnic minorities continue to be severely and disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS in the United States. People of color represent the majority of new HIV diagnoses, people living with HIV/AIDS, and deaths among people with HIV/AIDS. African Americans account for 43 percent and Latinos account for 26 percent of new HIV diagnoses. Asian Americans, Native Americans, and persons of multiple races account for an additional 5 percent combined. Tragically, the rate of new diagnoses among African Americans and Latinos is about eight and three times that of whites respectively.

The Minority AIDS Initiative is an indispensable tool in the effort to combat these unacceptable disparities. This critical initiative targets funds for HIV/AIDS prevention, screening, treatment, education, and outreach to minority communities heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS. The funds are intended to provide community-based organizations that serve minority communities with the help they need to develop capacity and deliver culturally and linguistically appropriate care and services. Consequently, the initiative seeks to fill gaps where the needs are the greatest and strengthen efforts to fight the epidemic nationwide.

Presenting at the World AIDS Day briefing will be MAI expert Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings; Harold Phillips, White House Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy; and Joe Huang-Racalto, Director of Public Policy and Strategic Partnerships at NMAC.

We hope you will consider attending NMAC’s World AIDS Day briefing and the reception that follows. To RSVP for the briefing and/or the reception, please email RSVP@NMAC.org.

Sincerely,

Maxine Waters                        Barbara Lee
Member of Congress              Member of Congress

This year NMAC honors House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (SC), the Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee (TX), and the Honorable Jenniffer González Colón (PR). Thank you, Merck, the presenting sponsor for the reception and Kelley Drye for their support. Our movement is dependent on federal funding to care for people living with HIV and to end the epidemics. Our job is to keep HIV, STDs, and Hepatitis on the agenda of Congress and the Administration. On this World AIDS Day, thank you for staying strong during these difficult times.

Yours in the Struggle,

Paul Kawata

Paul Kawata

Remembering Urvashi Vaid

I went to the memorial for Urvashi Vaid. While I did not know her well, I was a fanboy for this powerful out South Asian Lesbian who opened doors. During these difficult times, the service was exactly what was needed. It helps to remember that our work stands on the shoulders of greats. The gathering was so New York and fabulous without trying. Watching Tony Kushner hold back tears as he tried to explain how Urvashi and Kate Clinton gave him a social life to the icon and GOAT Gloria Steinem who connected Urvashi’s work in the larger struggle for justice and equity. It was exactly what she deserved and our movement needed.

I am worried. I don’t know what’s happening to our country. I’m watching in disbelief and sadness. The world does not feel safe for people who are different. We are fighting for our right to exist, to love and be loved. This was not how it should be. Yet here we are, again. The war has started, and we are not ready. Last week the Supreme Court heard arguments to abolish affirmative based on race. Where is the outrage? In Texas there is a case that uses the Religious Freedom Act to allow employers to stop paying for HIV PrEP because it offends their religious beliefs. They are trying to dismantle the entire Affordable Care Act.

Everything seems upside down and backwards. Regardless of how the elections work out, the struggle is not going away. I am not going to stop being Gay because it offends you or your God. My skin is the color of my skin. These are things I would not change even if I could, and I can’t. How do we live in the same country when my very existence is an affront to your God?

It’s time to build institutions and movements that can work across purposes. We need a NATO for social justice. If they go after one of us, we all stand together in solidarity. Supportive donors need to give like never before. The funding needs to be unrestricted and multiyear. Support should prioritize real political power so we can fight back and not be helpless as they decimate our worlds. The radical right has spent the last 50 years working to overturn Roe and reshape America. We must catch up before it is all gone.

This is how I will remember Urvashi. In 1990 she interrupted a speech by then President George H.W. Bush. I was in the room. It was thrilling and scary. Part of an inside/outside strategy about the Ryan White CARE Act.

Like so many in HIV, I’ve attended too many memorials. We are a generation of walking wounded who saw too much and hurt too long. We buried lovers and friends in numbers that are still incomprehensible. I am tired and crushed to see our work going backwards. Make no mistake, this is a fight about our existence on the planet.

Yours in the Struggle,

Paul Kawata

Paul Kawata

NMAC Reacts to Texas Court Decision

Following is a statement from NMAC Executive Director Paul Kawata on the federal court decision in Texas allowing private employers to opt out of providing insurance that provides access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication, a vital tool to prevent the spread of HIV:

“While not a surprise, this decision is deeply disappointing and could cripple HIV prevention efforts, particularly among communities of color and communities of poverty. For many people at higher risk of HIV, employer-provided insurance is often their only way to access these vital medications. This decision has the potential to cut off millions of Americans from the life-protecting medications they need.

“This decision could also completely undermine the bipartisan effort to end the HIV epidemic by 2030 begun under former President Trump and continued under President Biden. Cutting off such a vital source of HIV-prevention medications will make it exceedingly difficult to end the epidemic by the end of the decade.

“Today’s decision is one more example of extremist judges denying science and endangering the health and lives of minority communities for political purposes. Leaders at the state and federal levels must take all necessary steps to protect access to these vital medications. NMAC will support all efforts to appeal this decision as soon as practicable”

Do The Right Thing!

 

The letter below was sent to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra from the following members of Congress: Maxine Waters, Bill Pascrell, Jr., Joaquin Castro, Barbara Lee, Raúl M. Grijalva, and Nanette Diaz Barragán. The Black AIDS Institute, Latino Commission on AIDS, NMAC, and the SF Community Health Center are working with key members to bring the Minority AIDS Initiative back to its original intent.

Congress of the United States
Washington, D.C. 20515September 1, 2022

The Honorable Xavier Becerra Secretary of Health and Human Services
Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue S.W.
Washington, DC 20201Dear Secretary Becerra:

We write to urge you to return the Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI) to its originally intended purpose of directing strategic HIV resources to minority-led organizations in order to close the racial and ethnic gap in the HIV epidemic. Minority-led organizations have the cultural competence and proximity to the affected communities that make them ideal partners for helping to end the epidemic.

Earlier this year, we requested that the House Appropriations Committee include language in the report to accompany the FY 2023 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill, recommending that the Secretary of Health and Human Services direct MAI resources to minority-led organizations. In response to our request, the Committee included the following language under the subheading, “Minority HIV/AIDS Fund:” “The Committee […] encourages the Secretary to prioritize MHAF grants to HIV-based agencies that are minority led with preference given to organizations led by women, men, and transgender persons who identify as African American/Black, Latino, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian American, and/or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.”

It has come to our attention that this language, and its inclusion under the aforementioned subheading, could be interpreted as applying solely to the $60,000,000 that the Committee provided specifically for the Minority HIV/AIDS Fund, which is managed by your office within HHS. We are writing, therefore, to clarify that it is our intent that this language be applied to all MAI funds controlled by all four of the HHS agencies involved in the administration of the MAI. These agencies include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the Office of the Secretary.

Of course, we realize that the guidance included in the FY 2023 report will not have standing until Congress has enacted a final Omnibus Appropriations Bill for FY 2023. Nevertheless, we urge you to use your discretion to begin immediately to direct MAI resources to minority-led organizations that have the cultural competence and proximity that enables them to serve minority communities effectively, and to do so across all four of the aforementioned HHS agencies.

We are grateful for your attention to our concerns, and we respectfully request a response from you prior to November 15, 2022. Furthermore, once an Omnibus Appropriations Bill for FY 2023 has been enacted, we would appreciate confirmation from the directors of each of the relevant agencies of their intent to comply with the guidance in the FY 2023 report.

Sincerely,

Secretary Becerra and Assistant Secretary Rachel Levine, it’s your move. CDC, HRSA, SAMHSA, and the Secretary’s Office need guidance to quickly address this inequity. As we continue to see with HIV, COVID and now Monkeypox, people of color shoulder a disproportionate burden of disease. When the Congressional Black Caucus works with leaders from the Congressional Hispanic and other Caucuses provide this guidance, it’s time to do the right thing!

Yours in the Struggle,
Paul Kawata
Paul Kawata

Live Monkeypox Town Hall Oct. 10

 

 

Monkeypox Town Hall

Monday, October 10, 6:30 PM ET
USCHA
San Juan, PR
Livestreamed on Facebook

Five of the nation’s leading organizations focused on ending the HIV, STD, and hepatitis epidemics – AIDS United, NASTAD, the National Coalition of STD Directors, NMAC, and The AIDS Institute – will host a Town Hall on Monkeypox at the 2022 United States Conference on HIV/AIDS. This event will be livestreamed on Facebook.

This Town Hall will invite federal, state, and local leaders to come together with USCHA attendees to have an important but difficult conversation on roles and responsibilities with MPV. Unfortunately, this is another virus that disproportionately impacts gay and bisexual men, particularly Black and Latinx gay men.

Vaccinating all sexually active communities that are impacted by MPV will not be easy or cheap. Our agencies are very concerned that HIV or STD funding does not get reprogrammed for MPV. There is also so much misinformation. We are inviting federal leaders to update and clarify what is known and the next steps.

The Town Hall will be facilitated by:

Daniel Driffin
Damián Cabrera

All USCHA attendees and people on Facebook are invited to listen, ask questions, or make statements. Due to time constraints, comments will be limited to three minutes per person. A report will be produced from the proceeds to help inform next steps.

Yours in the Struggle,
Paul Kawata
Paul Kawata

CDC Admits Problems

My world is literally out of focus (cataracts), and I am mad and concerned. If the last two years were not enough, now we must fight Monkeypox (MPV). How much more must we endure? There is too much pain and loss. I am exhausted by the suffering, overwhelmed by the fighting, and worried about SCOTUS. Below is Aug. 18th data from Philadelphia:

Leaders are not supposed to say these things publicly. We are supposed to be the paragon of virtue and hard work. These unrealistic pictures are why so many fail or quit. I’m speaking my truth so you don’t have to feel alone. Life is hard and there is no clear end. The only thing we have is each other.

Centers for Disease Control and PreventionLast week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publicly admitted what we all knew: their response to COVID was less than ideal. This announcement was unprecedented and hopeful. They’ve made a commitment to be ready for the next pandemic. I hope they understand that Monkeypox is here. Their ability to stop MPV before it becomes endemic will demonstrate their real-world capacity. I want CDC to succeed but can’t turn a blind eye to the challenges.

This week Daniel Driffin and Damián Cabrera have two meetings with the White House to talk about Monkeypox. Surgery makes it impossible for me to attend. I’ve asked them to do four things:

  • Fight for more vaccine
  • Ensure Vaccine Equity
  • Work to overcome Vaccine Hesitancy
  • Remember SCOTUS

At their meeting with Mr. Fenton and Dr. Daskalakis, they will be joined by people who got Monkeypox. There is too much fear and discrimination. These community leaders will ask the White House to fight the stigma associated with this virus. To understand that it is rooted in homophobia and racism. During these difficult political times it may be used as a weapon to discriminate against the LGBTQI community.

We’ve also invited David Garcia, the executive director of Affirmations in Michigan. Recently, he shared the frustration of getting MPV vaccines to his community. NMAC asked him to share his story. In some regions it is the “Hunger Games” to get shots.

I know the White House and CDC are committed to these values, but can they deliver? As we saw with COVID, CDC’s ability to communicate basic messages often got lost in their efforts to be scientifically accurate. They feel the responsibility to be the CDC, but that happens at the expense of clear messages that community can understand. The world has changed and their position as the ultimate authority is irrelevant in the age of TikTok. The old paradigm of doctors in white coats must give way to the reality that America is diverse and complex. We want to see our faces in the leadership and programs. Communications from old White cisgender men does not cut it in the new world.

To be clear, Dr. Walensky just got to the CDC and these challenges go back decades. COVID showed what the HIV community already knew: our movement needs a CDC who understands how to reach the communities highly impacted by HIV and now Monkeypox and who understands that leadership is collaborative, and their responsibility is to build a bigger table. The days of telling us what or how to do it are over. We wasted too much time on DEBBIs and EBBIs.

If I seem bitter, please know it’s not because of the CDC. My bitterness comes from a world that feels unrelenting and out of control. Just as I was getting ready to exhale, there is another virus that some people will use to make political points. I can feel the judgements oozing from their pores. Gay and bisexual men are getting what we deserve. They see and judge us as scum. With a bible in one hand, they believe we are going to hell. Don’t let your urban bubbles fool you. We are in a fight for the soul of America and we could lose.

Our fight against Monkeypox, like our fight against HIV, must address the racism and homophobia that these viruses engender. Whether we like it or not, these political hot buttons are inextricably intertwined with our efforts to end the HIV epidemic and our work to stop monkeypox from becoming endemic. I worry about the government’s ability to fight what might be inherent in its systems. For too long government systems were built on values that did not reflect community with systems that reward compliance at the cost of innovation. The search for scientifically proven solutions assumes a static community when the opposite is true. COVID/HIV/Monkeypox solutions need flexibility and innovation. That is not usually a strength of government. I wonder if change is even possible.

I know the leaders at CDC are good competent people who want to do the right thing. The challenge is they live and work in a system that was built decades ago by alpha White male doctors who were taught to be gods and not collaborators. To them weakness was a problem and not a virtue. They were going to save us from ourselves rather than take the time to understand and celebrate who we were. Thank you, CDC, for admitting there was a problem. The proof will be in your ability to change. Next up is Monkeypox. Can you put together systems that are more than just getting out vaccines? Monkeypox, like COVID, requires targeted outreach to communities that might not trust the government. As we’ve learned with HIV, it’s not enough to just provide the medication; we must build systems that reach people where they live. Systems that understand and celebrate the communities needed to be reached.

Yours in the Struggle,
Paul Kawata
Paul Kawata

Joint Statement from NMAC, Partner Organizations on Meeting with White House Officials on Monkeypox Response

JOINT STATEMENT FROM NMAC, PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS ON MEETING WITH WHITE HOUSE OFFICIALS ON MONKEYPOX RESPONSE

Aug. 23, 2022 – Today, representatives from NMAC joined leaders from community organizations and individuals from throughout the country to meet with top officials from the White House National Monkeypox Response team. NMAC led the critical conversation to discuss the impact the fast-spreading monkeypox virus (MPV) is having on the LGBTQ+ community and communities of color.

Following today’s meeting with White House officials Robert Fenton, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, and Harold Phillips, as well as Dr. Nick DeLuca from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the coalition of organizations and individuals released the following joint statement:

“As the monkeypox virus (MPV) continues to spread throughout the United States, particularly in many underserved and underrepresented communities, we are appreciative of Robert Fenton and Dr. Demetre Daskalakis for meeting with us today to talk through ways the Biden Administration is addressing this national public emergency. It is crucial that the Monkeypox Response team fully understands the impact the virus is having in our communities to ensure a proactive and equitable response.

At the forefront of our concerns are three primary issues: is the government producing enough MPV vaccines to help mitigate the spread of the virus; does the Administration’s plan address vaccine equity to expedite deployment to communities who are disproportionately impacted by MPV; and what steps is the White House Response team taking to address vaccine hesitancy. We are troubled with the reporting that shows that the vast majority of new MPV cases are among people of color and within the LGBTQ+ community, and many have faced hardships seeking preventative care. We were pleased to hear that the White House understands the need and is listening to the stories like the ones we presented to them today as they continue to address and monitor the ongoing MPV situation.

We have learned many hard lessons from other national epidemics – particularly with HIV and recently with COVID-19 – on how communities of color and the LGBTQ+ community have been shut out of access to life-saving treatment, were left out of the public health response planning and deployment by previous administrations, and were stigmatized in the public with false, hateful messages and propaganda. We reiterated with Mr. Fenton and Dr. Daskalakis to remember that people who have had or are currently dealing with MPV are human beings first, and those communities that are being the most affected by the MPV should take priority in their response efforts.

We look forward to continuing our conversations with White House officials, government experts, and public health professionals to ensure that the constituencies we represent are not forgotten or left behind, and are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

Joining the meeting on behalf of NMAC were Daniel Driffin and Damián Cabrera; David Garcia, Executive Director of Affirmations LGBTQ+ Community Center in Michigan; Antonius Minniefield, global health advocate from Georgia; and Julio Frausto, health educator at Bienestar Human Services in Los Angeles.

###

NMAC leads with race to urgently fight for health equity and racial justice to end the HIV epidemic in America. Since 1987, NMAC has advanced our mission through a variety of programs and services, including: a public policy education program, national and regional training conferences, a treatment and research program, numerous electronic and print materials, and a website: www.nmac.org. NMAC also serves as an association of AIDS service organizations, providing valuable information to community-based organizations, hospitals, clinics, and other groups assisting individuals and families affected by the HIV epidemic.

Welcome to Our New MPV Newsletter

This is the first of what will be a weekly NMAC newsletter on the latest developments in the monkeypox (MPV) epidemic. Production of this newsletter is supported by a grant from Gilead Sciences to NMAC to serve as the coordinating center for the policy response to MPV.

These newsletters are intended for service providers, people living with or at risk of MPV, and policymakers at the federal, state and local levels. Each newsletter will provide updates on the latest data pertaining to MPV, especially as it relates to public policy. These newsletters will center the individuals and organizations most heavily affected by MPV, profiling people living with or at risk of MPV as well as the organizations that are contributing to the fight against this national health emergency.

Why NMAC is helping lead the fight against MPV
NMAC leads with race in the effort to end the HIV epidemic in the U.S. This focus demands that NMAC become engaged in the fight against MPV. Gay/bisexual men – the population most heavily affected by HIV – account for at least 94% of people with MPV. People living with HIV make up 41% of people diagnosed with MPV.

As in the case of HIV, the communities of color for which NMAC advocates are disproportionately affected by MPV. Black and Latinx people account for about one-third of the U.S. population but for 54% of people with MPV. In Georgia, Black people account for 33% of the state’s population but for 82% of the state’s confirmed MPV cases.

Just as people of color are markedly less likely than white people to obtain PrEP or to achieve HIV viral suppression, Black and Latinx gay/bisexual men are being left behind in early efforts to roll out MPV vaccines. In the case of MPV, leading with race means immediate action to ensure equitable access to the prevention of MPV, timely treatment of MPV, and MPV vaccination.

MPV: The latest developments
MPV is spreading rapidly

The federal government has been slow to respond

  • There are shortages of every key tool needed to fight MPV (prevention, testing and treatment) – in large measure because of the federal government’s failure to plan and respond aggressively to protect the health of gay/bisexual men. TPOXX, the only drug available for the treatment of MPV, is in short supply, and doctors who have MPV patients must complete a 27-page application and obtain federal approval before they can administer the drug for their patients who are experiencing severe MPV-related pain.
  • The country has an acute shortage of MPV vaccines because the federal government, even though it owned millions of doses of the vaccine, failed to ask the manufacturer to bottle it for distribution. The federal government is now racing to close this gap, but current estimates indicate that the vaccine shortage won’t be resolved before 2023.
  • To make the limited supply of vaccines go as far as possible, the federal government has approved administration of a smaller dose between the layers of the skin rather than a full dose under the skin. CDC also recommends that people exposed to monkeypox receive post-exposure vaccination (ideally within four days of exposure).

The Biden Administration has declared MPV a national emergency

  • The President named Robert Fenton, an emergency response expert, and Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, of the CDC, to lead efforts to coordinate a national MPX response. It is hoped that the emergency declaration will open new funding for the MPX response and light a fire under the federal bureaucracy to overcome its early fumbles.

Building on the leadership of Black and Latinx gay/bisexual men to fight MPV
Given the disproportionate impact of MPV in communities of color, efforts to address this national emergency must elevate the voices of Black and Latinx gay/bisexual men. To help NMAC serve as the coordinating center for the national MPV policy response, Daniel Driffin has agreed to spearhead advocacy with the White House and other arms of the federal government. A Black gay man living with HIV in Atlanta, Daniel co-founded THRIVE Support Services, an innovative community-centered support and service program that aims to promote the health and well-being of Black gay men.

“Regardless of whether it is cancer, HIV, STIs, housing or other social determinants of health, Black gay men are often the last group for whom solutions are provided,” Daniel says. He has seen this with MPV vaccines in his hometown of Atlanta. “Anytime a local health department stands up a vaccine clinic, within minutes all of the available appointments are gone, and the slots aren’t going to the Black and brown men who are most affected.”

Although the challenge of ensuring vaccine equity is considerable, Daniel knows from his own experience that there are solutions to this problem. “COVID-19 has shown that with the right education and the right messengers, Black and brown people have the same uptake of vaccines as other people. Ensuring that Black and brown people are included in the response from the outset – from Day Zero – is critical if we want to ensure equity.”

Yours in the Struggle,

Paul Kawata

Paul Kawata

Dear Mr. Fenton

NMAC logo

Mr. Robert J. Fenton Jr.

National Monkeypox Coordinator
The White House
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. Fenton,

Congratulations on your appointment as the National Monkeypox (MPV) Coordinator. Kudos on the White House announcement on alternative dosing.

There are concerns about implementation. Like you, NMAC will follow the science.

NMAC (formerly National Minority AIDS Council) leads with race to end the HIV epidemic. Thanks to an unrestricted educational grant from Gilead, the agency has put together the moniker www.monkeypoxtruth.org. This program, like our mission, leads with race to stop MPV. Our work prioritizes MPV vaccine equity and overcoming vaccine hesitancy, particularly for gay men of color, the transgender community, Black women, and sex workers.

Thankfully, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis is on your team. He has our full support. Given the reality that gay and bisexual men, especially Black and Brown gay men, are 98% of people with MPV, there is a critical need to address equity.

Policy Priorities

  1. More MPX Vaccines
  2. Fight for Vaccine Equity
  3. Overcoming Vaccine Hesitancy
  4. Culture Wars

The number one priority is more vaccines. NMAC urges you to quickly overcome any impediments to getting vaccines into arms. While alternative dosing was a good first step, the virus is quickly spreading. Each day, I read the new US case count and worry. Community is watching and losing patience.

Recent data said 63% of people with MPV are people of color. NMAC is concerned that history will repeat itself and this becomes another on a long list of challenges impacting communities that are overwhelmed by too many issues. If COVID taught us anything, there needs to be vaccine equity plans at the start. We cannot be an afterthought.

Given the numbers, www.monkeypoxtruth.org will hold-up and tell the stories of Black and Latinx gay and bisexual men. We will also tell stories from the frontlines. Leading our efforts are:

 Daniel Driffin         Damián Cabrera

On Wednesday, our first monkeypox e-newsletter goes out for free to the entire NMAC mailing list. You will get three pieces of email each week which could be annoying, so we ask for your patience. We are still working out the kinks. At some point, we hope MPV will just go away or at least the need for a weekly newsletter will.

Vaccine hesitancy is a challenge when reaching gay men of color, particularly Black and Latinx men. The White House needs to support targeted education and training. General outreach won’t work. While the HIV community has decades reaching these communities, as we’ve seen from PrEP, it has not always been successful. Do not let history repeat itself.

MPV may be used by extremists to say gay men are sick and undeserving. Once again, it all sounds too familiar and impossible. The political, moral, and ethical contradictions abound. Vaccine education programs may require outreach and campaigns that they will find offensive. Let’s not kid ourselves: MPV sits in the middle of the culture wars.

I hope you can visit an LGBTQ clinic. During these times without enough vaccine, your support and work to get them shots is critically needed. As we’ve learned with COVID, we must take care of our heroes on the front lines.

Monkeypox, like HIV, is more than numbers. There already is too much stigma. Sometimes with social media it feels like the early days on steroids. Please come out of the gate fighting MPV stigma. Like HIV stigma, it comes from a place of homophobia and racism. In this political climate, it is particularly dangerous.

Yours in the Struggle,

Paul Kawata

Paul Kawata

Gilead Sciences and a Coalition of LGBTQ+ and Human Rights-Focused Organizations Mobilize to Address Monkeypox Public Health Emergency

GILEAD SCIENCES AND A COALITION OF LGBTQ+ AND HUMAN RIGHTS-FOCUSED ORGANIZATIONS MOBILIZE TO ADDRESS MONKEYPOX PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY

– Gilead Will Provide up to $5 Million in Global Grant Funding to Immediately Support Public Education and Vaccine Hesitancy Communications, a Public Policy Response and a Global Outbreak Emergency Fund for Community Organizations in Regions with Active Monkeypox Outbreaks –

Foster City, Calif., August 9, 2022 – Gilead Sciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: GILD), GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and NMAC today announced immediate action in response to the emerging monkeypox virus (MPV) outbreak, which is disproportionately impacting the LGBTQ+ community, particularly men who have sex with men (MSM), as well as those who are living with HIV. Gilead will provide up to $5 million in global grant funding to help support three areas of focus: a public education and vaccine hesitancy communications campaign, a public policy response and a global outbreak emergency fund.

The MPV outbreak was declared a public health emergency by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on August 4. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at 528 MPV infections diagnosed between April 27 and June 24, at 43 sites in 16 countries. Of that group, 98% of the cases were among gay or bisexual men and 41% were living with HIV.

“Throughout our history, Gilead has worked to address critical public health challenges and healthcare disparities, particularly those faced by the LGBTQ+ community or impacted by the HIV epidemic,” said Deborah Telman, Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and General Counsel, Gilead Sciences. “Today we are proud to work with our longtime collaborators around the world to help meet the immediate needs of impacted communities and to help identify longer term solutions to this emerging crisis. At Gilead, we are also accelerating and expanding our early-stage antiviral drug screening program to identify new molecules for potential future treatment of MPV infection.”

Funding will help support three key areas of response.

Gilead’s Global Monkeypox Outbreak Emergency Fund will provide grants of up to $50,000 to existing grantee organizations working in regions with active MPV outbreaks to respond to this growing emergency. Funds may be used to cover expenses such as community mobilization activities specifically addressing MPV outbreak in communities disproportionately impacted by HIV, operating costs related to HIV testing and service interruptions and essential safety materials.

GLAAD, HRC, NBJC and NCLR will help continue to ensure that critical information about MPV reaches impacted communities. This comprehensive communications campaign will help LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV receive accurate, accessible and targeted information so they are able to make informed decisions about how to prevent and treat MPV. Public education efforts from the national coalition will include creation of videos, graphics and other information resources focused on vaccines, prevention and treatment to be distributed to media, community centers and organizations, as well as organizers and managers of LGBTQ events and venues.

“As we saw with HIV, COVID-19, and now MPV, disinformation continues to challenge the LGBTQ+ community,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO, GLAAD. “This new collaboration will enable creating and distributing content and resources to help our community know the facts and to understand prevention and treatment for MPV. When communities receive accurate, timely information, they are empowered to take appropriate action, leading to long-lasting, positive health outcomes.”

“As MPV continues to impact our communities, we’re witnessing a concerning amount of misinformation and confusion,” said Joni Madison, Interim President, HRC. “That misinformation is especially harmful to BIPOC communities who historically are sidelined when it comes to equitable access to care and treatment. Over the past several weeks, we’ve also seen the LGBTQ+ community doing what we’ve always had to do: caring and advocating for each other. In the same vein, we look forward to working together with Gilead and other partner organizations to combat the stigma that prevents people from seeking the care they need.”

“The National Black Justice Coalition is excited to be a part of this coordinated effort to prevent the spread of MPV across the U.S., especially among the Black LGBTQ+/SGL community and people living with HIV/AIDS,” said David J. Johns, Ph.D., Executive Director, National Black Justice Coalition. “We have engaged with key decision-makers since the outbreak emerged to ensure our community is included, in non-stigmatizing ways, in public health campaigns, is educated about the dangers of this virus, and is connected to care. Responses must be democratized so information, testing, and treatment resources reach people who have the greatest need and the fewest resources.”

“There has been a lack of accurate information about MPV and that has, and will continue to negatively and disproportionately hurt the health and well-being of the LGBTQ+ community, communities of color and people at the intersections of these underrepresented identities,” said Imani Rupert-Gordon, Executive
Director, NCLR. “We are seeing the number of MPV cases across the country increase and our community expects and deserves access to education and resources to help combat the virus, and feel safe in their communities.”

NMAC will act as the policy response organizing center to help address policy issues related to HIV and MPV. Funding from Gilead will help NMAC inform public policy to drive a more comprehensive, swift and coordinated community response.

“NMAC is grateful to Gilead for their leadership on this critical issue,” said Paul Kawata, Executive Director, NMAC. “Through our extensive contacts at the federal level and with the support of our community partners, we will work with both the White House and Congress to provide the necessary resources to deal with this outbreak. Our top priorities will include making sure that vaccine access is equitable for all communities at risk and that any outreach plans will include ways to deal with vaccine hesitancy in a culturally competent way.”

Collaboration is crucial to support the sustainability of community partners and these groups will work together to monitor the evolving MPV landscape to impact response.

About Gilead Sciences
Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company that has pursued and achieved breakthroughs in medicine for more than three decades, with the goal of creating a healthier world for all people. The company is committed to advancing innovative medicines to prevent and treat life-threatening diseases, including HIV, viral hepatitis, cancer and inflammation. Gilead operates in more than 35 countries worldwide, with headquarters in Foster City, California.
Gilead has promoted equity, particularly healthcare equity, since the company brought its first therapies to the market. Through global partnerships, Gilead’s medicines today reach millions of people in low- and middle-income countries around the world.

For more than 30 years, Gilead has been a leading innovator in the field of HIV, driving advances in treatment, prevention and cure research. Today, millions of people living with HIV globally receive antiretroviral therapy provided by Gilead or one of the company’s manufacturing partners.

About GLAAD
GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ+ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love.

About the Human Rights Campaign
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people. Through its programs, the HRC Foundation seeks to make transformational change in the everyday lives of LGBTQ+ people, shedding light on inequity and deepening the public’s understanding of LGBTQ+ issues, with a clear focus on advancing transgender and racial justice. Its work has transformed the landscape for more than 15 million workers, 11 million students, 1 million clients in the adoption and foster care system and so much more. The HRC Foundation provides direct consultation and technical assistance to institutions and communities, driving the advancement of inclusive policies and practices; it builds the capacity of future leaders and allies through fellowship and training programs; and, with the firm belief that we are stronger working together, it forges partnerships with advocates in the U.S. and around the globe to increase our impact and shape the future of our work.

About National Black Justice Coalition
The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is America’s leading civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer+, and same gender loving (LGBTQ+/SGL) people, including people living with HIV.

About National Center for Lesbian Rights
For 45 years NCLR has worked to achieve and advance LGBTQ equity through litigation, legislation, advocacy and public education. NCLR has held a unique space in the LGBTQ civil rights arena as an organization founded by lesbians and fighting for justice for all LGBTQ people – bringing a fierce, longstanding commitment to racial, economic and gender justice for the most underrepresented people in our communities. The first LGBTQ civil rights organization to create programs specifically for youth, elders and immigrants seeking asylum, NCLR is also the first organization of its kind to create a transgender youth program, a focused reproductive justice initiative, a campaign (BornPerfect.org) to combat conversion therapy and NCLR is the co-founder of the National LGBTQ Anti-Poverty Network.

About NMAC
NMAC leads with race to urgently fight for health equity and racial justice to end the HIV epidemic in America. Since 1987, NMAC has advanced our mission through a variety of programs and services, including: a public policy education program, national and regional training conferences, a treatment and research program, numerous electronic and print materials, and a website: www.nmac.org. NMAC also serves as an association of AIDS service organizations, providing valuable information to community-based organizations, hospitals, clinics, and other groups assisting individuals and families affected by the HIV epidemic.

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For more information about Gilead, please visit the company’s website at www.gilead.com, follow Gilead on Twitter (@GileadSciences) or call Gilead Public Affairs at 1-800-GILEAD-5 or 1-650-574-3000.