Randy Slovacek's picture

Could Donald Trump Make HIV/AIDS A New Priority?

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised he would be “much better for the gays” than Hillary Clinton.

So far, that hasn’t been the case with Trump in the White House.

Within hours of taking the oath of office, the White House website was scrubbed of all mention of LGBTQ Americans.

The president has proposed banning transgender military service members and has begun discharging soldiers with HIV.

After several members of his HIV/AIDS advisory panel quit saying “Trump doesn’t care about HIV,” he fired the remaining members in January 2018. (Note: the new advisory panel was sworn in just last week).

The Trump administration has sought to cut funds from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and has flirted with cutting funds to AIDS research.

While HIV/AIDS is not a ‘gay’ disease, the Centers for Disease Control reports the illness disproportionately affects bisexual and gay men. In 2016, gay and bisexual men accounted for 67% of new infections.

So, it comes as a bit of a surprise that Trump could be planning to announce a ten-year plan to end HIV transmissions by 2030 during his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Politico is reporting that Trump plans to propose a strategy wherein health officials would “spend the first five years focusing on communities across roughly 20 states where the most HIV infections occur,” and then expand efforts to the rest of the country.

The plan reportedly has the support of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Robert Redfield.

According to Politico, Redfield announced at a CDC meeting last year that the eradication of AIDS by 2025 would be possible via “public health tools” like emphasizing more widespread condom use.

It's worth noting that when Redfield was tapped to head up the CDC last year, the news was met with some objections.

At the time, Dr. Peter Lurie penned an essay for the Center for Science in the Public Interest that noted Redfield had supported policies opposed by a majority of health professionals including "mandatory HIV testing, reporting of positive HIV results to public health authorities without the patient’s consent, and quarantining of HIV-positive individuals in the military."

He was also accused of "misrepresenting data about the effectiveness of an experimental AIDS vaccine that he was supporting" in the early 1990s.

While meaningful action on the HIV/AIDS epidemic would certainly be laudable, given this administration’s history on LGBTQ issues, we’ll have to wait and see.

One of Politico’s sources stressed the content of the SOTU speech is still in flux.

Over one million Americans have HIV with approximately 40,000 new infections each year.

 

The opinions expressed here represent those of the author and not of Instinct Magazine or its other contributors.

(h/t Politico)