Executive Directors Urge Broader LGBT Movement to Re-engage in Fight to End the Epidemic
June 3, 2013 | Washington, DC - As the nation marks the opening of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, executive directors from 34 LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations from across the United States have released a joint letter committing themselves and their organizations to re-engaging the broader LGBT community in the fight against HIV. 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.
"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."
Selisse Berry, Chief Executive Officer of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, said: "Identifying as LGBT and as a person living with HIV in the workplace is an exceptional challenge, a double whammy for many. Through our services we do not forget that the challenge of HIV is a daily one for millions around the globe and Out & Equal continues to do all we can to ensure that safe and inclusive workplaces exist for everyone."
"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."
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 .
The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) represents a coalition of faith based and community based organizations as well as AIDS service organizations advocating and delivering HIV/AIDS services in communities of color nationwide. Since 1987, NMAC has developed leadership in communities of color through a variety of advocacy campaigns, public policy education programs, national conferences, research programs, capacity building, technical assistance and trainings, and digital and electronic resource materials. For more information visit www.nmac.org .
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates is committed to ending employment discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees. We believe that people should be judged by the work they do, not by their sexual orientation or gender identity. Every day, we work to protect and empower employees to be productive and successful-so they can support themselves, their families, and contribute to achieving a world free of discrimination for everyone. To learn more, visit www.outandequal.org .
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.