Last Wednesday, in an historic address to the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Daniel Driffin a black, gay man living with HIV discussed the progress America has made and the work that remains in our fight to achieve an AIDS-free generation. Explaining how he believes we reach that goal, Driffin said "We invest in research and education. Expand treatment and prevention. And we elect Hillary Clinton."
Throughout her career, Clinton has fought to combat HIV and AIDSand the stigma and pain that accompany it. As First Lady, she advocated for increased funding for U.S. prevention and research effortsespecially for pediatric AIDSand honored scientists committed to AIDS research. In the Senate, Clinton put forward legislation to expand global AIDS research, voted for the creation of PEPFAR and to defend and protect the Ryan White Act, and co-sponsored legislation to extend Medicaid coverage to low-income people living with HIV. Under Clinton's leadership as secretary of state, American aid directly supporting people on antiretroviral treatment increased over 200 percent to reach over 6.7 million men, women, and children around the world. Clinton began an ambitious campaign to usher in an AIDS-free generation, oversaw the repeal of the HIV travel ban, which prevented people living with HIV and AIDS from entering the United States, and led efforts to end mother-to-child transmission.
Clinton's record of commitment stands in stark contrast to that of Donald Trump and Mark Pence. Both Trump and Pence want to defund Planned Parenthood, a critical resource for HIV testing services. Under Mike Pence, Indiana experienced one of the worst HIV epidemics in the past two decades. Despite the fact that Indiana's recent HIV epidemic was fueled by intravenous drug use, Pence's rigid, ideological opposition to needle exchange programs stopped him from acting quickly to alleviate suffering in the hardest hit areas. One year later, counties that see skyrocketing HIV rates must foot the bill for their own needle exchanges without assistance from the state. Pence has a long record of putting his own ideological agenda before funding for HIV/AIDS. Pence has been called out for supporting diverting money away from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and providing it instead to organizations performing so-called "conversion therapy" when he ran for Congress. In this campaign, Trump and Pence have not proposed a single idea for addressing the domestic and global HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Unlike Trump and Pence, Clinton will continue to fight to achieve an AIDS-free generation. She believes we have reached a critical moment in this fight: We have the tools to end this epidemic once and for all, and we need to rededicate ourselves to fighting HIV and AIDS and leaving no one behind. During this campaign Clinton has outlined specific steps she will take to combat HIV/AIDS, and today, she built on this comprehensive agenda, committing to:
Convene an "End the Epidemic" working group to adopt aggressive and attainable timelines for ending AIDS as an epidemic in the United States and globally. Clinton's Office of National HIV/AIDS Policy will immediately begin to engage a wide range of experts, advocates, and stakeholders to adopt timelines for ending AIDS as an epidemic in the United States and globally.
Work to fully implement and strengthen the National HIV/AIDS Strategy to meet these timelines. Clinton's Office of National HIV/AIDS Policy will work to fully implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, and strengthen it to align with the timelines developed for ending AIDS as an epidemic. Particular emphasis will be placed on expanding evidenced-based prevention, treatment, and community outreach initiatives for at-risk groups, including black men who have sex with men ( MSM ), transgender individuals, African American women, and injection drug users. She will also account for regional variations, like the particular needs of the southeast corridor of the United States.
Launch a campaign to end the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and AIDS. Nearly 40 years have passed since the HIV/AIDS crisis first began, and yet even with everything we have learned, intolerance and stigma still exist. This stigma manifests itself in our criminal laws, and also serves as a barrier to effective prevention and treatment. That's why, as president, Clinton will launch a campaign to end stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. She will work to reform outdated HIV criminalization laws, aggressively enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act, and partner with advocacy groups and community organizations to conduct public education.
Daniel Driffin's address can be viewed here: youtu.be/tEISxyexaeg .
His remarks are transcribed below:
"Good afternoon. I live in Atlanta, Georgia and I serve as the co-founder of THRIVE SS. Together with more than one million Americans, I'm living with HIV. When the HIV/AIDS epidemic first emerged in the 1980's, I was not born yet. It was a mysterious virus, then a deadly one too. It seemed to be picking off gay men one by one, especially black and Latino.
The community spoke out so that policymakers would take notice. And while summoning their voices, Hillary Clinton listened. She advocated for the increased funding for prevention and research as first lady. Then worked to increase the funding in the Senate. She defended the rhyme white care act and expanded researchers in testing and education. As secretary of state, Hillary helped to ensure that 6.7 million people around the world got access to antiretroviral therapy. And she cracked down on the stigma around the virus and helped lift the travel ban with the help of the Congressional Black Caucus, which presented people with HIV/AIDS from entering our country. As a result of her work and the work of so many others, many of whom are here tonight, the number of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses are on the decline in the United States by nearly 20 percent over the last decade for certain populations.
We know how to prevent the virus now. We know how to diagnose the virus now. We know how to treat it and we know how to suppress it. We have learned all that within my lifetime. But still, there are many living with HIV. And who are most at risk? Young, gay, black men. Men like me. In fact one in two gay black men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime if current rates continue. And if we have enough data, I'm sure black transgender women are more at risk too.
So, what do we do to fight HIV/AIDS today? We invest in research and education. Expand treatment and prevention. And we elect Hillary Clinton. With Hillary Clinton as our president, I believe that we can meet our goals of an AIDS-free generation. So, as an organizer, as an advocate, as a black man, as a gay man, and as a man living with HIV, I ask you to go get tested, and then go and vote."