Task Force commemorates World AIDS Day
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force today commemorates World AIDS Day with a call for greater focus toward combating the continuing epidemic of HIV/AIDS.
“More than three decades into this epidemic, we mark yet another World AIDS Day with a call for greater focus on combating HIV/AIDS and better treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS. We pause today to remember those we have lost to this terrible disease, to take time to honor the many warriors who have dedicated their lives to the fight against HIV/AIDS, to reflect both on the progress we have made and the immense challenges that remain, and to recommit ourselves to the causes of prevention, treatment and cure.
“Among the hardest hit by this epidemic are our gay and bisexual brothers, our transgender sisters, our young people, and communities of color, particularly black men and women. Because we still have no cure and our nation still awaits more resources, we vow to continue working toward the eradication of ignorance, intolerance and HIV/AIDS.”
The Task Force is urging Congress and the Obama administration to address current needs for HIV/AIDS treatment and services by increasing funding for the Ryan White CARE Act, including the AIDS Drug Assistance Program; greater support for screening and prevention efforts, by folding routine HIV screening into the Affordable Care Act Essential Benefits Package; passage of legislation such as the Repeal Existing Policies that Encourage and Allow Legal HIV Discrimination Act, barring discrimination against HIV–impacted individuals; and defunding medically inaccurate and discriminatory abstinence-only-until-marriage programs replacing them with comprehensive, age-appropriate sex-education programs.
The groundbreaking study by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality, Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, showed that transgender people are four times more likely than the general population to be HIV-positive. One in four black transgender people reported being HIV-positive, along with one in 10 Latino/as, seven percent of American Indians and four percent of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans.
These numbers are startling but not surprising given data collected around rates of discrimination in medical care, sexual assault and employment discrimination: one in five transgender people has been refused medical treatment simply because of their gender identity/expression, and one in four has faced harassment or violence in a medical setting.
The Task Force in coalition with partner organizations has worked on implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which significantly expands coverage to people living with HIV/AIDS. The Task Force also advocated for the Bureau of Prisons to allow prevention activities such as condom distribution in federal prisons. Our advocacy in Congress includes pressing for increased funding levels for HIV prevention, treatment and services; for passage of the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act, federal legislation that would bar criminalization on the basis of HIV status.
Thirty years ago the Task Force hired the first lobbyist in the nation to focus on HIV/AIDS issues. The Task Force ran the first toll-free HIV/AIDS hotline in the world early in the epidemic. In 1984, we secured the first federal funding for community-based HIV/AIDS service organizations. Today, the Task Force continues to push the federal government as we have for 30 years to ensure that community HIV/AIDS service organizations have the funding they so desperately need. We are pleased that this fall, the CDC granted 34 community organizations $55 million over five years to increase HIV prevention services targeting those most at risk, including young men of color, transgender youth, and their partners.
To learn more about the Task Force’s work on HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic, go here