The president spoke of ending HIV in his State Of The Union address earlier this year, but from his gutting of HIV-related programs to his continued stigmatizing of the LGBTQ community, his record says something quite different.
One week after President Donald Trump promised to work to “eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years,” and “defeat AIDS in America,” in his State of the Union address last month, The New York Times ran a scathing report on the Trump administration’s efforts that are actually working against that goal, and actively harming those living with HIV/AIDS.
For Trump at the State of the Union, it was literally just a hypocritical applause line.
So it’s a bit ironic that Trump, who despises what he falsely calls “the failing New York Times,” Tuesday morning tweeted out a Times story: “HIV Is Cured In 2nd Patient, Doctors Report.”
The story begins, “Scientists have long tried to duplicate the procedure that led to the first long-term remission 12 years ago. With the so-called London patient, they seem to have succeeded.”
Trump, just as he did in his State of the Union address, offered only empty words.
“Such great news for so many. Tremendous progress being made!”
In mid February The New York Times reported: “Trump Pledged to End H.I.V. But His Policies Veer the Other Way,” offering a litany of examples detailing how the Trump administration has actually worked to reverse progress being made in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“In November, the Trump administration proposed a rule change that would make it more difficult for Medicare beneficiaries to get the medicines that treat H.I.V. infection and prevent the virus from spreading,” the Times reported, adding, “the Trump administration proposed a new policy to cut costs for Medicare by reducing the number of drugs that must be made available to people with H.I.V.”
“Mr. Trump has repeatedly urged Congress to repeal the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, even though Medicaid is the largest source of coverage for people with H.I.V. And he has promoted the sale of short-term health plans that skirt the Affordable Care Act, even though such plans usually exclude people with H.I.V.”
“To end the spread of the virus, federal health officials say they must reduce the stigma attached to gay men and transgender people who are at high risk so they will seek testing and treatment. But for two years the administration has tried to roll back legal protections for people in those groups.”
The executive director of the American Academy of H.I.V. Medicine said the Trump administration’s moves last year “could be catastrophic” for Medicare patients living with HIV.
Back in June of 2017, six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) resigned, citing President Trump’s lack of interest or strategy to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Trump “simply does not care,” they wrote. Later that year, in December, without warning, Trump fired the remaining 16 members, “via a letter from FedEx.”
Overnight the White House website, HIV.gov, had been scrubbed of their names.
Trump has waited more than a year to reconstitute the White House AIDS Council. With new leaders the panel is slated to meet this month.
“In May 2017,” HIV Plus Magazine reminded last month, “the White House announced intended and deliberate funding cuts to HIV programs including PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), the Ryan White Program, and the Global Fund. These funds administer critical resources in the fight against HIV both domestically and internationally, and cutting them would not only immediately hurt those living with HIV, but also increase new infection rates.”
It adds that as Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence “caused the worst HIV outbreak in Indiana history in 2014 through his negligence of drug users and people living with HIV.”
“HIV Is Cured In 2nd Patient, Doctors Report.” @nytimes Such great news for so many. Tremendous progress being made!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 5, 2019
Written by David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement. Image via NCRM