December 1, 2020 at 12:17 pm PST | by Brody Levesque
Biden issues World AIDS Day statement
President-elect Joe Biden (Screenshot via NBC News YouTube)

WILMINGTON, Delaware – President-elect Joe Biden and soon to be First Lady Jill Biden issued a joint statement Tuesday in observance of World AIDS Day.

Biden recognized in his statement that members of the LGBTQ community are among the survivors of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“We will pursue bold solutions and increase our collaboration with affected communities around the globe,” Biden said. “We will redouble our efforts to tackle health inequities that impact communities of color, LGBTQ+ people, and other marginalized groups, including women and children.”

By stating LGBTQ people are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, Biden strikes a contrast with President Trump. who never enumerated LGBTQ people in his public statements and proclamations on World AIDS Day in each of his four years in office.

Drawing on the coronavirus, Biden also said the pandemic serves as “a reminder that we cannot let up in our efforts to fight other epidemics, so many of which — including HIV/AIDS — have been exacerbated by this pandemic.”

Making a bit of news, Biden announces plans to reinstate the Office of National AIDS Policy, a White House job that was filled during the Obama years, but defunct during the Trump administration. Early on during the Trump administration, six members of the Presidential Advisory Council of HIV/AIDS who were Obama holdovers resigned in protest over the vacancy in that role.

“We will reinstate the Office of National AIDS Policy, release a new comprehensive National Strategy on HIV/AIDS and expand support for bipartisan programs like the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria,” Biden said. “Together, we will change the tide of rising infections, expand treatment and support health security around the world.”

The Trump administration has developed a plan to end the HIV epidemic by 2030 with a PrEP-centric cross-agency initiative. It remains to be seen if Biden, who campaigned on beating HIV by 2025, will build on this plan or scrap it in favor of his own strategy.

The President-elect’s full statement:

Today, Jill and I join with communities around the globe to remember those we have lost and to recommit ourselves to ending AIDS as a public health threat. 

COVID-19 is a reminder that we cannot let up in our efforts to fight other epidemics, so many of which – including HIV/AIDS – have been exacerbated by this pandemic. We will pursue bold solutions and increase our collaboration with affected communities around the globe. We will redouble our efforts to tackle health inequities that impact communities of color, LGBTQ+ people, and other marginalized groups, including women and children. We will work with activists and advocates to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, human rights, and listen to scientists, nurses, and other public health experts who have saved countless lives. We will reinstate the Office of National AIDS Policy, release a new comprehensive National Strategy on HIV/AIDS, and expand support for bipartisan programs like the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Together, we will change the tide of rising infections, expand treatment, and support health security around the world. 

This year, World AIDS Day honors the resilience and impact of advocates, activists, and frontline workers who have spent decades treating people with dignity, fighting for human rights, and saving lives. Because of their work, an AIDS-free generation is not only imaginable, it is within our reach. And under a Biden-Harris Administration, America’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in this moment will match their unparalleled example.

Additional reporting by the Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson.

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