In a proclamation Wednesday recognizing World AIDS Day, President Trump again has omitted any recognition of LGBTQ people as among the groups primarily affected by the epidemic.
Such was the case in proclamations issued in 2017 and 2018. But the latest absence of LGBTQ people stands out even more because Trump takes the occasion to tout his administration’s plan to beat HIV by 2030.
“Through this initiative, we will continue to lead the charge in applying the latest science to better diagnose, treat, care for and save the lives of individuals living with HIV by focusing on the cities and states most impacted by the disease,” Trump writes.
The cross-agency initiative under the Department of Health & Human Services, as Trump explains in the initiative, seeks to eliminate at least 90 percent of new HIV infections in the United States within 10 years with a PrEP-heavy focus on diagnosis, treatment, prevention and response.
By promoting his administration’s plan to beat HIV/AIDS without enumerating the groups most affected by the epidemic, Trump declines to recognize HIV/AIDS as a social justice issue and not just a disease.
In contrast, Obama in his 2016 proclamation spelled out HIV/AIDS predominantly affects “gay and bisexual men, transgender people, youth, black and Latino Americans, people living in the Southern United States, and people who inject drugs.”
The furthest Trump gets to those groups in his World AIDS Day proclamation is a call to “remove the stigma surrounding HIV and to address disparities facing people living with this disease.”
“Our success is contingent upon collaboration across all levels of government here in the United States and around the world, community interaction and outreach to people with HIV and at‑risk populations, and a citizenry motivated by compassion for the suffering of humankind and hope for the future,” Trump says.
Trump’s budget request to Congress asked for $300 million in additional funds to combat HIV, but also slashed request for international programs, including PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculous & Malaria. Trump critics, including the Human Rights Campaign, have faulted him for insufficiently funding HIV based on those cuts.
But Trump in the proclamation insists the U.S. commitment to beating the international HIV/AIDS epidemic “is clear and as strong as ever” and has invested more than $85 billion in PEPFAR.
An estimated 1.1 million people in the United States have HIV and 38 million people have the disease worldwide.
Since the beginning of the epidemic, 75 million people have been infected with HIV and about 32 million people have died from the disease, according to the World Health Organization.
“As we mourn this tragic loss of life,” Trump writes, “we acknowledge the remarkable advancements in medical care, treatment, acceptance, and understanding surrounding the virus. While admirable progress has been made, it is not enough, and we must continue to work toward a vaccine and a cure.”
Read the full proclamation here.