The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
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Marking World AIDS Day 2009


On this World AIDS Day, the National Gay and Lesbian Task
Force calls for a more robust federal response to combat the ongoing
scourge of HIV/AIDS.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

"World AIDS Day 2009 dawns with signs of hope that our federal
response to the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic will move forward with
dedication to ending this crisis. We can be encouraged that President
Obama has lifted the discriminatory ban on travel and immigration to
the United States by HIV-positive individuals. The recent signing of
the reauthorization of the Ryan White HIV Treatment Act also ensures
that life-saving care and services will continue to be available to
people living with HIV/AIDS. The administration is currently engaged in
a national town hall meeting tour, taking testimony from people about
what will make for an effective National HIV/AIDS Strategy. The House
version of the health care reform bill includes provisions to make
people with HIV eligible for Medicaid coverage earlier in their illness
and it prohibits discrimination in health care based on 'personal
characteristics' like sexual orientation and gender
identity/expression. All of this is good medicine for our communities
that we welcome. Yet, the clock ticks and there remains much to be

"On this day, we know that young gay and bisexual men of color
remain extraordinarily vulnerable to contracting the virus, as are
transgender and African-American women. AIDS impacts black men who have
sex with men at rates similar to those in sub-Saharan African
countries. In addition to treatment access and the lifting of the HIV
travel ban, we also need prevention education that specifically targets
our most vulnerable people. We need comprehensive sexuality education
that shows and tells us how to protect ourselves against infection. We
need a funded public education campaign to combat the discrimination
and stigma experienced by those who seek testing and treatment. We need
federal funding for syringe exchange programs. And yes, we still need a
coordinated national strategy to identify initiatives and approaches to
end the epidemic.

"According to the CDC, every 9 1/2 minutes someone contracts HIV in
the United States. Our calendars mark this as World AIDS Day, but our
clocks tick tick tick away the minutes that mark another infection,
another life changed forever, another personal struggle to thrive
getting under way. On this World AIDS Day, more than 150 people in the
U.S. will contract the virus. For all the progress that we have made,
it isn't yet enough."

The National LGBTQ Task Force advances full freedom, justice and equality for LGBTQ people. We are building a future where everyone can be free to be their entire selves in every aspect of their lives. Today, despite all the progress we've made to end discrimination, millions of LGBTQ people face barriers in every aspect of their lives: in housing, employment, healthcare, retirement, and basic human rights. These barriers must go. That's why the Task Force is training and mobilizing millions of activists across our nation to deliver a world where you can be you. Join us!