Open Letter: Let's Stop Falling Behind on HIV
BY We The LGBT
June 03 2013 4:04 AM ET
Dear LGBT Community,
Over the last 30 years, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people have seen great strides in the movement for full equality. Much of this success is the result of a concerted movement, which was galvanized in response to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.
In the decades since, our movement has seen incredible victories. Today, 21 states and Washington, D.C., have implemented nondiscrimination laws in employment to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees. Eighteen states allow gay couples to adopt children. Sixteen states have passed legislation protecting LGBT students from discrimination, with another 15 states specifically protecting LGBT students from bullying. Gays and lesbians can now serve openly in the military, and now 12 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have legalized same-sex marriage. More than half of all Americans support marriage equality, including the first-ever sitting president.
Unfortunately, our community hasn’t maintained the same momentum in our fight against HIV. Gay and bisexual men recently accounted for 63% of all new HIV infections and perhaps most concerning is the 22% increase among those between 13 and 24 years old. Each day, more than 80 gay and bisexual men become infected with HIV in the United States. These trends are even more pronounced among gay and bisexual men of color, with young black gay and bisexual men having a higher rate of HIV infection than any other population in this country. While we don’t have enough data on transgender populations, studies show that 28% of transgender women are HIV positive in the United States with rates over 50% for African American transgender women.
One in five gay and bisexual men are living with HIV in the United States. Despite these alarming statistics, which have galvanized our community in the past, the HIV epidemic has seemed to fall by the wayside. Many in our community have simply stopped talking about the issue. This must change. We, the undersigned, are committed to being part of this change and urge the entire community to join us in this fight.
If you are a policy maker, fight to protect and expand HIV treatment and prevention programming and fight to stop HIV criminalization at the federal, state and local level.
If you are an LGBT organization, be sure to speak to your constituents about the continued toll this epidemic has on our community.
If you’re an LGBT donor, support causes that benefit the health of the community.
And get tested, know your status, and join the fight to end this epidemic.
Science and policy have aligned like never before to make it possible to envision an AIDS-free generation. That vision will not be realized without addressing the persistent and disparate impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. Today, we commit to ending this epidemic and protecting the health of our community. We urge you to join us in this effort.
Positive Resource Center
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Rudolph H. Carn
Kevin M. Cathcart
Transgender Law Center
Victor E. Diaz-Herman
Pridelines Youth Services
Antonio David Garcia
Gay Men's Health Crisis
Lorri L. Jean
LA Gay and Lesbian Community Center
National Minority AIDS Council
National Center for Lesbian Rights
Metro Wellness & Community Centers
Kick – The Agency for LGBT African Americans
The Center/GLBT Community Center of Colorado
The Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada
Family Equality Council
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Gay City Health Project
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders
The NYC LGBT Community Center
Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center
Modesto Tico Valle
Center on Halsted
Community Education Group
Black AIDS Institute
Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund