President Trump issued a proclamation commemorating World AIDS Day, which takes place on Friday, and his statement completely ignored LGBTQ+ people — a community that is disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS.
“We honor those who have lost their lives to AIDS, we celebrate the remarkable progress we have made in combatting this disease, and we reaffirm our ongoing commitment to end AIDS as a public health threat,” Trump said in the proclamation.
World AIDS Day began in 1988, with the goal of raising international awareness about the disease and commemorating the lives of those who have been affected by this condition or who have died because of it.
As of today, an estimated 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV/AIDS. Two communities that have been most at risk of contracting the HIV infection in the U.S. are LGBTQ+ people and people of color. Both were notably absent from the proclamation, which is cause for concern when you look at the data.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), gay and bisexual men make up about 67% of all HIV infections in the country and, though there’s not a lot of data available, it’s estimated that 22% of all transgender women are HIV positive. When it comes to people of color, the CDC has also found that the Black and Latinx communities are disproportionately impacted: About 44% of people diagnosed with HIV in the U.S. are Black and 25% are Latinx.
Trump’s proclamation, which mostly steered clear of specifics other than highlighting “adolescent girls and young women in some sub-Saharan African countries” who are at risk, comes across as even more problematic when compared to President Obama’s previous proclamation. In his 2016 statement, the former president noted that “gay and bisexual men, transgender people, youth, black and Latino Americans, people living in the Southern United States, and people who inject drugs” are at a disproportionate risk of contracting the infection.
The omission didn’t sit well with members of LGBTQ+ community, advocates, and allies.
“Leaving those most impacted by HIV and AIDS out of a World AIDS Day statement is an erasure that is deeply offensive. The Trump Administration has a long record of erasing the LGBTQ community and proposing countless policies that cut HIV research funding and support for those living with HIV and AIDS,” Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO, said in a statement provided to Refinery29. “Trump’s intentional omission reinforces the stigma and discrimination faced by LGBTQ people and people of color that already creates barriers to prevention and treatment service.”
Though he issued a proclamation, Trump has yet to appoint someone to lead the Office of National AIDS Policy. And despite trying to position himself as a friend to the LGBTQ+ community and a champion for those afflicted by HIV/AIDS, Trump’s actions over the last 10 months speak to the contrary. For example, he failed to recognize June as Pride Month, proposed slashing 17% of programs that combat HIV/AIDS in the world’s poorest countries, and signed an executive order banning transgender people from the military.
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