State of the Union: When Someone Shows You Who They Are, Believe Them

In last night’s State of the Union, 45 announced his administrations plan to end all new transmissions of HIV by 2030.

He said, “in recent years we have made remarkable progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Scientific breakthroughs have brought a once-distant dream within reach. My budget will ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years. Together, we will defeat AIDS in America and beyond.”

I hope this comes true. It CAN come true. We have so many tools at our disposal that aren’t being used to their fullest potential.

Only about 1/2 of those living with HIV in the US are virologically suppressed. To be virologically suppressed means that the virus is literally undetectable in the blood. If there is no virus circulating, there is no virus to be transmitted. So, obviously, more people need to be on treatment, more people need better follow up, and more people need to get the help that they need to take their meds. Those who are affected by HIV are more likely to be marginalized in some way–predictors of people not taking their meds are what makes folks marginalized–homelessness, impoverishment, joblessness, etc. HIV prevention must take our social environment into consideration.

To give another example, PrEP, which can be given to someone who is at risk of contracting HIV works tremendously well. But, right now, very few people who need it most are getting it.

Color me skeptical for 45s actions speak louder than words. When someone shows you who they are, believe them.

Right now, more than 1 million Americans are currently living with HIV. The effort to end new infections by 2030 will require massive prevention efforts and better treatment for those living with HIV.

It would be amazing.

If successful, the United States will, “become a country where the spread of HIV has been effectively halted, because every American with HIV/AIDS is receiving treatment and every American at risk for HIV is engaged in the right, proven prevention strategy,” said US Health and Human Services Secretary, Alex Azar II.

If this is to come true, which, ohmygoodness, I hope for, it requires backpedaling on 45’s own policies, an end to his horrifically sexist, homophobic, and abusive policies.

It has long been shown that stigma and discrimination are connected to increased HIV rates. Right now, in this country a man between the ages of 13-29 who has sex with men gets infected every 44 minutes. Right now, in this country, 45’s has fueled the flames of discrimination against …45 said “I’m just not in favor of gay marriage”. His administration almost immediately removed all mention of LGBT issues from the White House website; his administration even removed an apology on the State Department website written by John Kerry about the discrimination against the LGBT population.

Right now, in this country trans people are already at high risk of HIV because of the stigma that they face. Stigma that comes from 45 is in the form of a ban of trans people serving in the military and an effort to peel back rights for trans kids in school.

45 has tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act and slash Medicaid. HOW do you improve the health care of 1 million HIV infected Americans so that they are virologically suppressed, healthy, and break the chain of infections without affordable and accessible health care?

He’s sought to put an end to fetal tissue research which could put an end to HIV and cancers. He allowed the AIDS czar position to be vacant for much of his time in office.

This post has become a rant, I fear. It is high time we put an end to HIV. To do so requires every tool we have, a supportive environment, and that we take care of each other.

To end, this is the picture of “the chief architects of the plan” who are advising 45 on the plan. Do you see someone who is missing? Do see anything problematic with this picture?

It is high time we all speak up…because we CAN put an end to HIV. I need to be heard, you need to be heard, and everyone who is affected (i.e. just about every single one of us) needs to be heard, respected, and validated.

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