WASHINGTON, DC – In a comprehensive public policy letter sent to the Trump Administration and Congress, a broad coalition of 44 civil rights and health advocacy organizations urged the federal government to center the lives of African Americans in the nation’s fight to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The letter was born out of the Summit on Black Lives: Black America’s Response to the HIV/AIDS Epidemic, which is a yearlong endeavor led by the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) to ultimately produce a robust action plan to address and provide solutions to the current state of the epidemic and its impact on Black lives.
The organizations that signed-on have endorsed the public policy recommendations, federal funding requests, and next steps outlined in the letter to fortify our nation’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic by strengthening federal efforts to empower African American communities. The letter was sent in the midst of the critically important debate our national leaders are engaged in on the future, structure, and funding for the health care system of the United States. The organizations, serving both national and local constituencies, have joined together to endorse a path forward to positively impact the lives of Black people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and those at risk for HIV infection in African American communities, and to continue the nation’s progress on ending the spread of HIV/AIDS in our nation by continuing to invest in quality and affordable health care for all Americans.
Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, Executive Director and CEO of NBJC, released the following statement regarding the letter and joint effort by the broad coalition of organizations to bring attention to the burden of HIV/AIDS on African Americans:
“Since the dawn of the HIV epidemic in the early 1980s, Black people have consistently been the most impacted demographic in our nation. African Americans represent about 12 percent of the U.S. population, yet our communities continue to be the face of HIV, making up 45 percent of the new HIV cases annually, with Black gay and bisexual men, and transgender women, the hardest hit. Renewed and urgent action is needed by our federal government to address this state of emergency and we actually have the tools to change this dangerous trend. NBJC is honored to be joined by such diverse organizations that recognize this dire need, and we have sent a message to the leadership in Washington, collectively, to center the lives of the most marginalized, which remain African Americans. As our national leaders continue the debate on the federal budget and the future structure of the health care system, it is imperative that the needs of Black people living with HIV/AIDS—and those at risk—are central to this discourse. The essential programs that have been developed over the course of several Administrations in the fight to end HIV/AIDS and the expansion of access to health care for millions of Americans needs to be bolstered—not dismantled. The policy recommendations that are outlined in the letter sent to the Trump Administration and Congress do exactly this, and we are requesting that they be considered with due diligence. The future of our health care system and willingness to end HIV/AIDS in our nation depends on it.”
The letter highlights the demonstrated benefits of federal investments in critical programs like the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and the HOPWA program, and need to build upon the policies carried out by the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. In addition, the letter foreshadows the detrimental reality current legislative proposals in Congress to dismantle access to health care to millions of Americans would have on the most marginalized, uninsured, and underinsured populations in our nation—and specifically how much Black PLWHA stand to lose if passed into law. The organizations signing the letter stand jointly together to protect the advances our nation has made in the fight to end HIV/AIDS and agree that continued outreach and investment in communities of color to address health disparities like HIV must be a top priority for any health care reform.
In addition to leadership in the Trump Administration and the Congressional leadership of both parties, the letter was sent to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.
The following is the full list of 44 organizations that signed-on to endorse the policy recommendations in the letter:
National Black Justice Coalition; National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition; National Black Women’s HIV/AIDS Network, Inc.; SisterLove, Inc.; Global Network of Black People Working in HIV; Black AIDS Institute; National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc.; AIDS United; NAESM, Inc.; National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund; AIDS Foundation of Chicago; Human Rights Campaign; HIV Medicine Association; Young Black Gay Men’s Leadership Initiative; San Francisco AIDS Foundation; Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS); DC Fights Back!; Prevention Access Campaign; Presbyterian AIDS Network (PAN) (PHEWA), PC USA; Project Inform; South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council; Positive Women’s Network – USA; The AIDS Institute; ACRIA; Los Angeles LGBT Center; CAEAR Coalition; APLA Health; THRIVE SS Inc.; Southern HIV/AIDS Strategy Initiative (SASI); UCHAPS : Urban Coalition of HIV/AIDS Services; NOBCO National; Organization of Black County Officials; Advocates for Youth; National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association; Center for Black Equity; The Fenway Institute; Treatment Action Group; Southern AIDS Coalition; AIDS Alliance for Women, Infants, Children, Youth & Families; AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts; National Center for Lesbian Rights; Whitman-Walker Health; Ryan White Medical Providers Coalition; Be PrEPared (Texas Woman’s University); and the African American Health Alliance.
Read Full Summit on Black Lives Public Policy Letter HERE.