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Clinton meets with HIV/AIDS activists
by Matt Simonette

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Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, on May 12, met with a coalition of 20 HIV/AIDS leaders and experts, according to a statement. The meeting took place at the Hillary for America campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, New York.

Among the policies that Clinton has outlined during her campaign are capping out-of-pocket pharmaceutical expenses for people with HIV/AIDS; protecting those with HIV/AIDS from discrimination, which includes reviewing and reforming outdated HIV criminalization laws; increasing the investments in HIV/AIDS research; and expanding the use of HIV prevention medications, including PrEP.

Among those at the meeting was Ramon Gardenhire, vice-president of policy for Aids Foundation of Chicago (AFC). He said that he was particularly impressed with Clinton's "nuanced understanding" of HIV policy. Gardenhire also mentioned that she spoke of "full implementation" of the Affordable Care Act as well, one of the effects of which would be cutting down on financially onerous co-pays for persons using HIV medications.

Activists have requested the meetings with candidates, and have also asked them to appoint campaign advisors on HIV/AIDS issues; announce a commitment to eliminating HIV/AIDS by 2025; and support an increase in funding to the global PEPFAR program by at least $2 billion dollars per year by 2020, according to a May 8 statement from the organization Housing Works.

"As a young, Black gay man, I want to underscore the importance of our elected officials truly understanding the unique challenges facing LGBT people, and today's conversation with Secretary Clinton was a welcome opportunity," said NoÃïl Gordon Jr., Senior Program Specialist for HIV Prevention and Health Equality at the HRC ( Human Rights Campaign ) Foundation on a May 12 statement. "When one in two Black gay men in America will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime, and where the rate of HIV among transgender women is shockingly high, we must confront the ways stigma and discrimination keep LGBT people from getting tested or treated for HIV. I believe we will have a full partner in our work if Secretary Clinton is in the White House."

Clinton's rival for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, had a similar meeting scheduled with advocates on May 3 in Indianapolis, but it was cancelled, much to the ire of stakeholders. According to reports, however, the Sanders campaign has rescheduled its meeting to May 25 in California.

"I am humbled and heartened that the candidates are engaging this issue," Gardenhire said. "I hope that this is just the beginning."

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