For the second year in a row, President Trump has issued a statement recognizing National HIV Testing that omits any mention of the vulnerability of LGBT people to the disease.
The lack of LGBT inclusion in statements on HIV/AIDS has been a consistent theme from Trump, who last year issued a statement on World AIDS Day that also failed to mention LGBT people being disproportionately impacted by the disease.
To be fair, President Obama never mentioned LGBT people in his statements on National HIV Testing Day either, but did mention LGBT vulnerability to the disease in other statements, including his final proclamation on World AIDS Day.
The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment on LGBT omission from the National HIV Testing Day statement.
Trump in his statement lauded “the great progress we have made” against HIV/AIDS, including national efforts “to spread awareness about the importance of getting tested.”
“Early detection of HIV — using a simple and routine test — is instrumental in helping contain the advancement of the virus to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS),” Trump said.
Trump also promoted HIV testing by pointing out new medications are helping people with HIV/AIDS “live longer and healthier lives.” Alluding to PrEP, Trump noted the Food & Drug Administration approved medication dramatically reducing the risk of HIV infection in the first place.
Although Trump doesn’t mention LGBT people in his statement, Trump does mention the high number of youths who are contracting the disease.
“Despite this progress, in 2016, nearly 40,000 people were diagnosed with HIV in the United States,” Trump said. “People between the ages of 20 and 29 received more than a third of those diagnoses. Even more troubling, 44 percent of people living with HIV between the ages of 13 and 24 were unaware that they were carrying the virus.”
Trump concludes that National HIV Testing Day is “an important reminder” those who are unaware they are carrying the disease are the “most at risk for inadvertently infecting others and missing out on potentially life-saving treatments.”
“As we observe National HIV Testing Day, we celebrate the advancements we have made in medical science, and I encourage all Americans to invest in their health and be aware of their HIV status,” Trump said. “Through greater awareness and education, we can all do our part to lead healthier and longer lives.”
Carl Schmid, deputy executive director of the AIDS Institute, said he was “happy” with the statement despite the LGBT omission.
“It doesn’t mention any of the groups,” Schmid said. “And I was thinking, gee, we did a statement, and I didn’t mention LGBT in ours either. We just focused on the number of people not being tested and the importance of testing.”
“I think we should give him credit for issuing a statement,” Schmid said. “I didn’t know they were going to do it, so I’m pleased. It shows that they are providing attention to HIV.”
Although Trump doesn’t mention LGBT people in his National HIV Strategy, a recently released report from the Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of HIV/AIDS & Infectious Disease Policy, which adopted Obama-era goals in confronting the disease, did include statistics on the vulnerability of gay and bisexual men, as well as transgender women, to the disease.
Schmid acknowledged the lack of LGBT mention on HIV/AIDS — as well as other populations — has been a theme from Trump, and said identification of youth as a vulnerable population is important because most of them are LGBT.
“I hope that he will address LGBT — particularly youth — and black and Latino gay youth as well, but I give him credit for issuing this, and I think we should,” Schmid said.