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."
"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 .
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.
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 .
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. www.nclrights.org .
About the Black AIDS Institute
Founded in May of 1999, the Black AIDS Institute ( www.blackaids.org) is the only national HIV/AIDS think tank in the United States focused exclusively on Black people. The Institute's Mission is to stop the AIDS pandemic in Black communities by engaging and mobilizing Black institutions and individuals in efforts to confront HIV. The Institute interprets public and private sector HIV policies, conducts trainings, offers technical assistance, disseminates information and provides advocacy and mobilization from a uniquely and unapologetically Black point of view. www.blackaids.org .