Chicago, IL — As the nation marks the opening of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, executive directors from over 35 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.
"Center on Halsted, and other community centers throughout the country, has a long history of providing care and support services for individuals living with HIV/AIDS," said Modesto Tico Valle, Chief Executive Officer at Center on Halsted. "We each play a vital role in advancing our community, and there is no better time than now to work collectively for a healthy future, free from HIV/AIDS, where LGBTQ people can thrive in supportive inclusive environments."
"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.
Below is an excerpt from the 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 .
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 .
About Center on Halsted
Center on Halsted is the largest, most comprehensive community center in the Midwest dedicated to advancing community and securing the health and well-being of the LGBTQ community in Chicago. For more information, please visit www.centeronhalsted.org .