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Human Rights Campaign: Trump Jr. Must Apologize for 'Vile' HIV Tweet

Donald Trump Jr.

Donald Trump Jr.'s comment on HIV shows he has "no understanding of people living with HIV," says HRC President Alphonso David.

The Human Rights Campaign is demanding that Donald Trump Jr. apologize for an appallingly ignorant tweet about HIV.

Over the weekend, Trump Jr. tweeted out a story on the LGBTQ website Queerty headlined "What You Stand to Lose by Not Having Sex With People With HIV." He added the comment "Well I can think of one thing."

He appears not to know that advances in HIV treatment and prevention make it perfectly safe for an HIV-negative person to have sex with an HIV-positive one. If someone with HIV is on treatment that has suppressed their viral load to an undetectable level, they cannot transmit the virus to a sexual partner -- something known as "undetectable equals untransmittable," or U=U. Also, if an HIV-negative person is using the prevention method known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, which involves the daily dose of an anti-HIV drug, that person is protected from acquiring HIV if exposed. Then there are good old-fashioned condoms and other means of making sex safer.

"Trump Jr. just proved again what we already knew -- that he, his father, and the Trump-Pence administration don't care about people living with HIV, are undermining competent care, and have no understanding of people living with HIV," HRC President Alphonso David said in a press release. "Trump Jr.'s absolutely disgusting and ignorant tweet only serves to perpetuate the stigma faced by people living with HIV, which HRC and LGBTQ advocates have fought so long to end. Trump Jr. must apologize. And Trump and Pence must put their money where their mouth is and actually sufficiently fund the domestic initiatives aimed at ending the epidemic they claim to be combating." The press release further called the tweet "vile."

HRC laid out the "disturbing" record of Donald Trump Sr. and Mike Pence on HIV and AIDS. They have sought to cut funding to HIV prevention and treatment programs, including those run by Medicaid and Planned Parenthood. Pence once said that if Planned Parenthood wanted to provide testing for sexually transmitted infections, it should cease providing abortions.

The Trump administration has tried to allow health care workers a license to discriminate against patients who somehow offend their religious beliefs, something that could have a great impact on people seeking HIV treatment or prevention services. A rule to this effect put out by the Department of Health and Human Services has been blocked by courts, but the administration is working on other schemes to enable discrimination.

Pence has long opposed needle-exchange programs, and when he was governor of Indiana, lack of these programs led to the worst outbreak of HIV in the state's history. He agreed to lift a ban on needle exchange only after drawing "universal outrage from public health experts," according to HRC.

The president has often shown ignorance about HIV, the release notes. Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who has made many donations to organizations that fight HIV, has said he twice had to explain to Trump the difference between HIV and human papillomavirus, the latter being a common virus that can cause cervical cancer. Trump has called his early sex life his "own personal Vietnam" because of the danger of contracting STIs. He also once joked that he could force Princess Diana, who worked with people with HIV and AIDS, to be tested for the virus.

William Barr, the administration's current attorney general, created what has been called an HIV prison camp in Guantanamo Bay in 1991, during a previous stint as AG under President George H.W. Bush. The camp reportedly held 310 asylum-seekers in dire conditions without adequate health care. Barr has blamed AIDS and other STIs on "sexual licentiousness," saying such infections "the costs associated with personal misconduct," HRC notes. He has opposed public health interventions, such as the distribution of condoms, because "by removing the costs of [sexual] misconduct, the government serves to perpetuate it."

Trump Jr. has also gotten roasted on Twitter.

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