Hey Joe, Make HIV History!
Dear Mr. President,
Sorry about the ‘Hey Joe,’ but I really wanted to get your attention about an incredible opportunity you have to lead us in ending the HIV epidemic in the United States.
Thank you for your strong and principled leadership to harness the full power of the federal government to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic. Your staunch support of mitigation strategies, testing and vaccinations — along with your commitment to addressing systemic racism and racial inequities in health care — are leading us toward a more perfect union.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, you inherited a lack of a strong national plan and insufficient resources that have placed millions of Americans at risk. Your leadership has already diminished that risk, replacing it with the hope that the end of the Covid-19 pandemic is within reach.
Your same strong and principled leadership is needed to end the now 40-year long HIV pandemic that has claimed more than 1 million American lives.
As with the Covid-19 pandemic, you did not inherit a strong national plan to end HIV. The pledges made by your predecessor fit nicely into a State of the Union speech. Yet the promises necessary to defeat HIV went unfulfilled. Thankfully, people with HIV, public health experts, scientists, and government and community leaders have created a roadmap to get us to the end of HIV.
Work on the roadmap has already begun – but far more is needed, especially with your leadership. Greater access to health care through the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion is essential. A majority of new HIV cases among individuals from African American, Latinx and Native American communities demand policies to overcome systemic racism and health inequities. Gay men have a one in six chance of contracting HIV during their lifetime and it’s even worse for young gay men of color. Access to health care, honest education and harm reduction programs are the only ways to save lives. These are among the first steps in leading us toward the end of HIV.
And, yes, you start with insufficient resources. Recent increases in funding, while welcome, are grossly inadequate. We need to assure that resources are increased substantially to meet the needs of people with and at risk for living with HIV across the nation.
Your commitment to health and racial equality will form the cornerstone of our strongest response ever to the HIV pandemic. A response that can achieve our collective vision of a world without HIV.
Let’s make HIV history,
Michael J. Gifford
President & Chief Executive Officer
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