Trump Proposes Ending HIV Despite His Administration’s Track Record

Donald Trump proposes ending HIV by 2030

In his State of the Union address tonight, Donald Trump says he plans to end the HIV epidemic within 10 years.

“In recent years, we have made remarkable progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS,” said Trump. “Scientific breakthroughs have brought a once-distant dream within reach. My budget will ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years. Together, we will defeat AIDS in America — and beyond.”

While a laudable goal, Trump’s past actions on HIV point to a far different position.

In December 2017, he fired his entire Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS with no warning after several member quit penning a TIME Magazine essay, “Trump Doesn’t Care About HIV.”

He defunded NIH vaccine research efforts and requested additional cuts in funding to fight HIV/AIDS that Congress has rebuffed.

He’s proposed diverting funds from the Ryan White HIV Program to pay for border security.

And then there’s the litany of attacks on the LGBTQ community as a whole.

Sorry, I call bullshit. As the old commercial goes, “Where’s the beef?”

“HIV advocates all agree that ending transmission is an important goal,” Stacey Long Simmons, director of advocacy and action at the National LGBTQ Task Force told the Washington Blade.

“Based on Trump’s repeatedly broken promises, we have cause to question his commitment until we see the necessary funding flowing to strategies that will actually end transmission.”

I’d love to be proven wrong in the long run.

We shall see.

Billy Porter Delivers The LGBTQ State Of The Union Address

In advance of President Trump’s annual State of the Union address tonight, actor/activist Billy Porter delivered Logo’s “LGBTQ State of our Union” regarding issues facing the LGBTQ community - triumphs, setbacks and looking ahead to 2019 as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
Billy Porter delivers Logo’s State of the Union address for the LGBTQ community

In advance of President Trump’s annual State of the Union address tonight, actor/activist Billy Porter delivered Logo’s “LGBTQ State of our Union” address regarding issues facing the LGBTQ community – triumphs, setbacks and looking ahead to 2019 as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

Porter begins with a statement of fortitude: “While our rights are under threat and the sanctity of identities is in peril, let me be clear: the state of our union is strong.”

Addressing some of the challenges the LGBTQ people face today, Porter points out:

• 29 transgender people (mostly trans women of color) ‘lost their light’ to violence in 2018

• Anti-LGBTQ violence is on the rise as 40% of LGBTQ survivors of hate violence sustained an injury in 2017 compared to the 31% in 2016.

• 42% reported seeking medical attention in 2017 compared to the 23% in 2016.

• 27% reported weapons were used their assaults compared to 13% in 2016.

While that does sound bleak, the Golden Globe nominee calls for a more positive approach to addressing these ills.

“How do we fight this hate? With love,” says the Pose star. “Continue to demonstrate out love for each other. Love is strength – strength we must have to fight for our integrity and for our very lives. We will fight hate with solidarity by standing for our siblings around the world.”

Porter calls on the LGBTQ community to declare, “We are here through the banning of transgender service members. We are here through the violence enacted by hate speech. We are here. And if the victories of the last year prove anything, we ain’t going no damn where.”

The 49-year-old also noted the results of the midterms elections delivering the most diverse Congress in history.

He mentions the successes of openly gay politicians – Jared Polis’ election to governor in Colorado; and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay Democratic presidential candidate, joining “a strong crop of Democrats ready, willing and able to throw down with 45.”

“And you better believe we’re coming for that White House and we’re gonna paint it rainbow,” adds Porter.

When it comes to pop culture there’s more good news.

 “On TV, on film and in music we are ‘showing up and showing out,” boasts the Tony Award winner. “We are in front of, and behind the cameras; we are increasingly the authors of our own stories.”

Recognizing 2019 as the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and New York City hosting this year’s World Pride event, Porter says, “We will continue to come together to acknowledge and embrace our intersectional community, and to push for equality and justice – for ALL.”

He closes the address by saying, “Make no mistake – our best days are ahead of us. Onward and upward. God bless our LGBT community and God bless the United States of America.”

Definitely worth the watching.

Out actor and LGBTQ activist Billy Porter

Trump Might Propose New HIV/AIDS Initiative?

Politico is reporting that Trump plans to propose a strategy wherein health officials would “spend the first five years focusing on communities across roughly 20 states where the most HIV infections occur,” and then expand efforts to the rest of the country.
Donald Trump

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised he would be “much better for the gays” than Hillary Clinton.

So far, that hasn’t been the case with Trump in the White House.

Within hours of taking the oath of office, the White House website was scrubbed of all mention of LGBTQ Americans.

The president has proposed banning transgender military service members and has begun discharging soldiers with HIV.

After several members of his HIV/AIDS advisory panel quit saying “Trump doesn’t care about HIV,” he fired the remaining members in January 2018. (Note: the new advisory panel was sworn in just last week).

The Trump administration has sought to cut funds from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and has flirted with cutting funds to AIDS research.

While HIV/AIDS is not a ‘gay’ disease, the Centers for Disease Control reports the illness disproportionately affects bisexual and gay men. In 2016, gay and bisexual men accounted for 67% of new infections.

So, it comes as a bit of a surprise that Trump could be planning to announce a ten-year plan to end HIV transmissions by 2030 during his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Politico is reporting that Trump plans to propose a strategy wherein health officials would “spend the first five years focusing on communities across roughly 20 states where the most HIV infections occur,” and then expand efforts to the rest of the country.

The plan reportedly has the support of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Robert Redfield.

According to Politico, Redfield announced at a CDC meeting last year that the eradication of AIDS by 2025 would be possible via “public health tools” like emphasizing more widespread condom use.

It’s worth noting that when Redfield was tapped to head up the CDC last year, the news was met with some objections.

At the time, Dr. Peter Lurie penned an essay for the Center for Science in the Public Interest that noted Redfield had supported policies opposed by a majority of health professionals including “mandatory HIV testing, reporting of positive HIV results to public health authorities without the patient’s consent, and quarantining of HIV-positive individuals in the military.”

He was also accused of “misrepresenting data about the effectiveness of an experimental AIDS vaccine that he was supporting” in the early 1990s.

While meaningful action on the HIV/AIDS epidemic would certainly be laudable, given this administration’s history on LGBTQ issues, we’ll have to wait and see.

One of Politico’s sources stressed the content of the SOTU speech is still in flux.

Over one million Americans have HIV with approximately 40,000 new infections each year.

Cameron Kasky To Attend State Of The Union Address

Cameron Kasky at the March for Our Lives (screen capture)

The Washington Post reports one of the survivor activists from the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida will attend this year’s State of the Union address next Tuesday as the guest of a Democratic congressman.

Rep. Eric Swalwell of California has invited activist Cameron Kasky to join him at the SOTU next week.

In the aftermath of the deadly shooting that left 17 dead, Kasky co-founded Never Again MSD, an advocacy group that lobbies for stricter gun laws. He also helped organize the March for Our Lives protest that took place in Washington, D.C. last March.

Kasky famously told CNN shortly after the shooting, “My message for the people in office is: You’re either with us or against us. We are losing our lives while the adults are playing around.”

Swalwell said in a statement he personally admires the “remarkable strength” Kasky has shown since the “unimaginable” shooting at Stoneman Douglas.

“He stands at the forefront of the fight for action to address gun violence,” said Swalwell. “I’m proud to have Cameron join me at the U.S. Capitol, nearly one year after he faced a horror no kid should endure at school, to continue this fight, because there is no right more important than the right to live.”

Swalwell has called for legislation banning military-style semiautomatic weapons. He is also reportedly considering a run for the White House in 2020.

Kasky joked on his Twitter that he would be running himself in 2020, co-opting Barack Obama’s campaign slogan a bit with #YesWeCam.

Stacey Abrams To Give Democratic Response To State Of The Union Address

Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams, the 2018 Democratic candidate for governor in Georgia, has been asked by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to give the Democratic response to the State of the Union next week.

“Three weeks ago, I called Stacey Abrams and asked her to deliver the response, I was very delighted when she agreed,” Schumer said to reporters on Tuesday.

From The 2015 State Of The Union Address

President Obama mentions marriage equality:

“I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that 7 in 10 Americans call home.”

“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law –- for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

The first mention of lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans ever in a State of the Union address:

“As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture, and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained.

“That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer.”

Guests at the State of the Union Address – Duck Dynasty and an American hero

Via Teabonics

In a study in contrasts, at last night’s State of the Union address, First Lady Michelle Obama hosted and sat next to Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg, an Army Ranger who was wounded in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan.

Praising the 30-year-old Army Ranger, President Obama introduced the Ranger saying “like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, SFC Cory Remsburg never gives up, and he does not quit.”  The introduction was the emotional highlight of the address.

Over on the GOP side of guests for the evening, Willie Robertson, of “Duck Dynasty” fame, attended at the invitation of Rep. Vance McAllister, R-La.

Things that make you go “hmm….”