Today, December 1st is World AIDS Day. It’s a day meant to raise awareness and show solidarity and commitment in the fight against HIV. While there’s still no cure for the disease, there have been tremendous breakthroughs in treatment, prevention, and understanding. From simple red ribbon-wearing to fundraising, this is a big day for visibility and support.
Neil Patrick Harris did terrible magic to raise money for the cause.
Rihanna and Prince Harry put all their pretty in one place to get public HIV tests in Barbados.
This commitment to raise money and awareness while fighting to strip the disease of its stigma is extremely heartening. Which makes looking ahead to the future of that fight all the more terrifying.
In his final annual World AIDS Day proclamation, President Obama detailed the work his administration has done to move progress forward, and makes it clear that that work needs to continue with the next administration.
Accelerating the progress we have made will require sustained commitment and passion from every sector of society and across every level of government around the world. A future where no individual has to suffer from HIV/AIDS is within our reach, and today, we recommit to ensuring the next generation has the tools they need to continue fighting this disease. Let us strive to support all people living with HIV/AIDS and rededicate ourselves to ending this epidemic once and for all. Together, we can achieve what once seemed impossible and give more people the chance at a longer, brighter, AIDS-free future.
It’s devastating to think of what is at risk here, and what could happen over the next four years. Trump himself has ignored the issue almost entirely. When asked directly if he’ll continue to support PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) and its efforts to fight the disease worldwide, Trump has said “Yes, I believe so strongly in that and we’re going to lead the way.” But he also says the US should “stop sending foreign aid to countries that hate us.”
Much more troubling are the beliefs of those Trump is surrounding himself with.
As governor of Indiana, Mike Pence opposed Planned Parenthood, slashed health funding, and opposed needle exchange programs. As a result, under his governance, Indiana saw the worst outbreak of HIV in the state’s history.
Pence has also advocated for reallocating HIV prevention funding to gay conversion treatments. In 2000, he wrote this disgusting plan on his Congressional campaign website:
Congress should support the reauthorisation of the [HIV funding] Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organisations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviours that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour.
Pence isn’t the only one positioned to tank the HIV/AIDS progress. Tom Price, Trump’s pick for Health Secretary is a member of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. What an innocuously name for a group that believes HIV doesn’t cause AIDS. They also, by the way, believe abortions cause breast cancer, vaccines lead to autism, and environmental regulation is a threat to our health.
Keep this in mind any time anyone suggests we “work with” Trump and his incoming administration, or just accept him as President, as if that means we no longer have a say in what happens inside our government. Remember, politics just just happen every four years. it doesn’t even just happen at the polls. Here’s a good guide for contacting your elected officials. (It’s specifically talking about issues of gun violence, but the contact info works with any issue you care about and want to make sure your voice gets heard.) Even simple acts of putting out rainbow flags or putting on a ribbon show solidarity in opposition. And that’s important right now.