Today, 35 LGBT and HIV advocacy groups marked the start of Pride Month with a joint statement on HIV/AIDS. The Executive Directors of these organizations--including Jody Huckaby of PFLAG National--have urged the broader LGBT movement for equality to re-engage in the fight to end this epidemic.
Together, these leaders have released a joint letter re-committing themselves and their organizations to the fight against HIV/AIDS. While issues like marriage equality and employment protections for LGBT workers have taken center stage, HIV continues to ravage the LGBT community. Despite making up just two percent of the population, gay and bisexual men accounted for more than 63 percent of new HIV infections in 2010. In fact, gay men are the only group in which HIV infections are increasing.
“Our organization was founded in 1973 in New York City, the cradle of the LGBT movement for equality...and where some of the earliest cases in the HIV/AIDS epidemic were reported,” said Jody Huckaby, Executive Director of PFLAG National. “Our founder, Jeanne Manford and her husband, Dr. Jules Manford, were themselves the parents of a gay son, Morty Manford, who died of AIDS. The history of PFLAG is intertwined with the history of HIV/AIDS and it is important that we raise up that truth. Beyond the Manfords, many of our earliest members were parents who were fighting the battle of acceptance and equality for their children, while simultaneously fighting for their children’s lives. Jody Huckaby noted "It is imperative that PFLAG National and its vast chapter network renew our commitment to the inclusion of HIV/AIDS in our work. Science is finally on our side. Today those of us leading LGBT-related organizations strengthen our voices in unison with HIV/AIDS organization leaders and stand together to help bring an end to this epidemic."
We are at an important crossroad in our fight against HIV,” said National Minority AIDS Council Executive Director Paul Kawata. “The evidence behind treatment as prevention, and expansions in health care coverage that will accompany implementation of the Affordable Care Act, have provided a unique opportunity to end this epidemic, which has ravaged our community for more than three decades. But this will not happen without the full engagement of those most impacted by the disease, and no community has been more heavily affected than the LGBT community. I am thrilled to be a part of this campaign to re-energize the LGBT response and work together to realize the vision of an AIDS-free generation.”
“As an organization that has been working to combat HIV discrimination since the beginning of the epidemic we are excited to see the LGBT movement re-commit to this work,” said Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director of Lambda Legal. “Because gay and bisexual men and transgender people are disproportionately affected by the epidemic and because we see the effects of discrimination and laws targeting people with HIV for criminalization it is incredibly important for the LGBT community to step up.”
Said National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell: “The LGBT community always has been at the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic. As the community most impacted, we are the ones who must step-up and recommit to ending future transmissions. To have a new generation of LGBT young people grow up free from HIV and AIDS will be a fitting legacy to those we have lost to this disease.”
Below is an excerpt from today’s joint statement:
Over the last 30 years, the [LGBT] community has seen great strides in the movement for full equality. Much of this success is the result of a concerted movement, which was galvanized in response to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s…In the decades since our movement has seen incredible victories… Unfortunately, our community hasn’t maintained the same momentum in our fight against HIV…Each day, more than 80 gay and bisexual men become infected with HIV in the United States…Despite these alarming statistics, which have galvanized our community in the past, the HIV epidemic has seemed to fall by the way side. Many in our community have simply stopped talking about the issue. This must change.
The entire letter and accompanying video can be viewed online here: www.wethelgbt.org