200-Plus Denounce Federal HIV/AIDS Policies

Health GAP reports that, at the conclusion of the March 2018 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston, more than 200 scientists, researchers, and clinicians strongly denounced HIV/AIDS policies promulgated under the Trump Administration.

Stating that “We are gravely concerned by President Trump’s pursuit of policies that are out of step with evidence,” the signatories to the letter specifically denounced:

(1) President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget proposal to the U.S. Congress that slashes at least $1.284 billion from global HIV programs;

(2) The reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy, now called “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance,” which forbids U.S. funding for organizations that provide abortion counseling, a policy that will reduce the sexual and reproductive care provided to women living with or at risk for HIV;

(3) The establishment of the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division at the Department of Health and Human Services, and the proposed rule regarding “Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health Care,” which would license health care providers to discriminate against their patients; and

(4) Cuts to the National Institutes of Health, which would hinder basic HIV research and impair research with partner nations to fight HIV.

The letter concludes, “Science shows us that we can defeat HIV, but not if we defy evidence. President Trump’s misguided budget proposal, and his Administration’s attempts to scale up policies in defiance of evidence, will only undermine the global AIDS response and should be stopped.”

Along with Health GAP, signatories to the CROI letter include such renowned figures as Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, Nobel Laureate who co-discovered HIV; Linda-Gail Bekker, President of the International AIDS Society; the HIV Medicine Association; and some 200 other internationally recognized researchers and clinicians. CROI, which attracts more than 4,000 HIV/AIDS international research leaders annually, has facilitated the presentation of important discoveries and accelerated progress in HIV/AIDS research.

Founded in 1999, Health GAP (Global Access Project) is an organization of U.S.-based AIDS and human rights activists, people living with HIV/AIDS, and public health experts who combat policies that deny treatment and fuel the spread of HIV. The group campaigns for drug access for people with HIV/AIDS globally and invests resources into sustaining the global AIDS movement, actively working with scientists and people living with HIV/AIDS throughout the United States and elsewhere.

The full text of the letter and a complete list of signatories is available at http://bit.ly/2GE4qrl.

—Reporting by Hank Trout

Hank Trout, Editor at Large, edited Drummer, Malebox, and Folsom magazines in the early 1980s. A long-term survivor of HIV/AIDS (diagnosed in 1989), he is a thirty-eight-year resident of San Francisco, where he lives with his fiancé Rick. Follow him on Twitter @HankTroutWriter.