Open Letter: Let's Stop Falling Behind on HIV

Even with many of the great strides in LGBT rights that have occurred over the last three decades, our community is still pummeled by HIV.

BY We The LGBT

June 03 2013 3:04 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.
 
Signed,
 
Michael Adams
SAGE
 
Brett Andrews
Positive Resource Center
 
Selisse Berry
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
 
Rea Carey
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
 
Rudolph H. Carn
NAESM, Inc.
 
Kevin M. Cathcart
Lambda Legal
 
Bernard Cherkasov
Equality Illinois
 
Masen Davis
Transgender Law Center
 
Victor E. Diaz-Herman
Pridelines Youth Services
 
Antonio David Garcia
Affirmations
 
Marjorie Hill
Gay Men's Health Crisis
 
Jody Huckaby
PFLAG National
 
Rebecca Isaacs
Equality Federation
 
Lorri L. Jean
LA Gay and Lesbian Community Center
 
Paul Kawata
National Minority AIDS Council
 
Kate Kendell
National Center for Lesbian Rights
 
Lorraine Langlois
Metro Wellness & Community Centers
 
Curtis Lipscomb
Kick – The Agency for LGBT African Americans
 
Carlos Martinez
The Center/GLBT Community Center of Colorado
 
Monica Meyer
OutFront Minnesota
 
Candice Nichols
The Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada
 
Lisa Perry-Wood
Family Equality Council
 
 
Terry Stone
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
 
Kara Suffredini
MassEquality
 
Fred Swanson
Gay City Health Project
 
Lee Swislow
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders
 
Glennda Testone
The NYC LGBT Community Center
 
Lance Toma
Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center
 
Modesto Tico Valle
Center on Halsted
 
Toni Young
Community Education Group
 
Phill Wilson
Black AIDS Institute
 
Chuck Wolfe
Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund
 

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