A call to action on World AIDS Day

The Task Force commemorates World AIDS Day with a call for greater focus — including resources and public attention — toward combating the continuing epidemic of HIV/AIDS and a call to action.

You can help to end discrimination against people living with HIV by urging your member of Congress to co-sponsor the Repeal Existing Policies that Encourage and Allow Legal (REPEAL) HIV Discrimination Act, which addresses the unfair use of criminal and civil laws against those who test positive for HIV. Today, 34 states have laws that criminalize transmission of HIV. It’s time to repeal these harmful laws that demonize people with HIV. Call 202.684.2468 today and tell your representative that this bill needs their support.

Thirty years ago the Task Force hired the first lobbyist in the nation to focus on AIDS issues. The Task Force ran the first toll-free AIDS hotline in the world early in the epidemic. In 1984, we secured the first federal funding for community-based AIDS service organizations. Today, the Task Force continues to push the federal government as we have for three decades to ensure that community HIV/AIDS service organizations have the funding they so desperately need. We are pleased that this fall, the CDC granted 34 community organizations $55 million over five years to increase HIV prevention services targeting those most at risk, including young men of color, transgender youth and their partners.

But that is not nearly enough. We must also put an end to the discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS, who are disproportionately transgender women, gay and bisexual men, and people of color. Results from our National Transgender Discrimination Survey showed that transgender individuals have a rate of HIV/AIDS that is more than four times higher than the general population. And, tragically the survey also found that one in four transgender African Americans live with HIV/AIDS.

We honor and stand with those who have dedicated their lives to the fight against HIV/AIDS. We mourn everyone we have lost in the past three decades and we vow to continue working toward the end of HIV/AIDS. This World AIDS Day, join us in supporting the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act to reduce the stigma and fear of living with HIV.  Take action now – call 202.684.2468.

Statement by Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey on World AIDS Day 2011:

We mark yet another World AIDS Day with a call for greater focus on combating this bitter epidemic, now in its third decade. We do this because it matters — the lives of all those affected matter, including the hardest hit among us: our gay and bisexual brothers, our transgender sisters, our young people, and communities of color, particularly black men and women. We do it because we still have no cure, and our nation still awaits more resources and less ignorance. We do it because today is not just a day to commemorate; it is a call to action — a call for resources to fund prevention, treatment, research and ancillary services. Our political leaders, faith communities — each of us — must recommit to working to end this disease once and for all. We thank and honor those who have dedicated their lives to this effort. We mourn those we have lost to this epidemic. We vow to keep pushing until HIV/AIDS is no more.

The Task Force is also urging Congress and the Obama administration to address current needs for HIV/AIDS treatment and services. This includes increased funding for the Ryan White CARE Act, including the AIDS Drug Assistance Program; greater support for screening and prevention efforts, including routine HIV screening as part of the Affordable Care Act Essential Benefits Package; and the defunding of medically inaccurate and discriminatory abstinence-only-until-marriage programs to be replaced with funding for comprehensive, age-appropriate sex-education programs.