The AIDS Crisis Requires Investment, Not Rhetoric
During the State of the Union Tuesday night, Donald Trump exclaimed: “Together, we will defeat AIDS in America and beyond.”
Some advocates and health experts have expressed excitement at the prospect of renewed White House efforts to combat the deadly virus. Trump’s high-minded rhetoric, however, stands in stark contrast with his actions regarding the crisis since taking office two years ago.
In 2017, six individuals left the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, protesting the Trump Administration’s blatant disregard for the issue. The White House eliminated the website for the Office of National AIDS Policy and refused to meet with high-profile AIDS advocates. His administration has cut a billion dollars from programs that treat the virus, resulting in fewer tests across the nation. Furthermore, Trump refrained from appointing an AIDS Czar, leaving the position open for the first time since the Clinton Administration.
The Trump Administration’s policies have also had an adverse impact on the fight against HIV/AIDS. By attempting to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, Trump and his allies in the GOP have made it more difficult for the communities most affected by the virus to seek help. An estimated 4 million people have lost health insurance since Trump’s inauguration, underscoring how his actions are hurting—not helping—those who need medical assistance the most.
Trump has selected Brett Giroir to spearhead the new initiative. Giroir is also in charge of the White House’s program to combat the opioid epidemic. If the lack of progress fighting opioid abuse is any indication, Trump’s HIV/AIDS proclamation at the State of the Union could very well amount to an empty promise.
Advocates should exercise caution at Trump’s words and demand action from his administration instead.