SAN FRANCISCO, December 1, 2017—San Francisco AIDS Foundation CEO Joe Hollendoner issued the following statement this morning, in response to a presidential proclamation on the occasion of World AIDS Day.
"World AIDS Day is a moment for the global community to reflect on the loss our community has experienced, to recognize the progress that a generation of activists, scientists, and lawmakers have made, and to strengthen our resolve against the barriers we now face. President Trump and supporters of the Senate and House tax bills are credible threats to that progress and to those living with and at risk for HIV. The AIDS ribbon hanging in the north portico of the White House to commemorate World AIDS Day is this year nothing more than window dressing.
"San Francisco AIDS Foundation is disappointed by the contradiction between President Trump's proclamation that credits public and private investments for progress in HIV prevention and treatment and his statements supporting a tax plan that eliminates health coverage for 13 million people, threatens Medicaid, and opens a $1 trillion budget deficit.
"We are outraged President Trump neglects to recognize gay and bi men, trans people, people of color, and people who use drugs as those who have suffered the greatest losses and still carry the greatest risk of HIV. This is only the latest attempt to erase our communities and marginalize those most affected by HIV.
"Our progress is in peril. Gains we have fought for since the early days of the epidemic—fewer people seroconverting, more people knowing their status, and people living longer—are at risk. With the departure of six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) in June and still no director for the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP), forward motion on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy is stalled. As the budget deficit looms, the network of services for people living with HIV including health care, housing, and other support services is under attack, and reduced funding for research and prevention lingers in the shadow of this tax bill.
"The country and the world have benefitted from steadfast, bipartisan leadership from the White House for decades and this World AIDS Day we call on President Trump to take on this issue. The White House must acknowledge that PACHA will continue to provide independent, community-driven advice to a new secretary of Health & Human Services. The administration must reinstate the Office of National AIDS Policy and appoint a director. President Trump must also affirm the support for sustained global HIV resources through PEPFAR with strategic increases to domestic HIV programs and research that move us closer to our goal of zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, and zero HIV stigma.
"It took President Reagan six years to publicly acknowledge AIDS. It was an era when rampant misinformation, prejudice, and fear blocked educational efforts—an era not unlike our current time. President Reagan and his administration’s slow and insufficient response to HIV resulted in millions of premature deaths. President Trump can avoid the Reagan legacy not by attacking the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Ryan White Program, but by recognizing the need for these programs, housing support, and additional services that reach African-American and Latinx people, LGBTQ people, especially trans and gender nonconforming people. If his administration squanders this opportunity, millions more will suffer a similar fate"
About San Francisco AIDS Foundation
San Francisco AIDS Foundation works to eliminate new HIV transmissions and extend the longevity of people living with HIV through a network of direct programs and supportive services. Each year, more than 16,000 people look to San Francisco AIDS Foundation for access to sexual health services, substance use & mental health services, and community engagement and social support programs. Policy and public education initiatives are a critical part of supporting community health and wellness, and San Francisco AIDS Foundation advocates at all levels of government. Learn more at sfaf.org.