One of the greatest challenges to ending the epidemic and finding a cure is the lack of significant, substantive conversations happening around HIV/AIDS. Activists have been providing vital feedback to our leaders since the beginning of the epidemic.
A conversation this week with Secretary Hillary Clinton signified that candid dialogue offers the potential to generate new ideas and better inform how we create aggressive policies to treat the nearly 37 million people living with HIV globally and to prevent the 50,000 new infections across the United States every year.
Our elected officials must play a critical role in ending the epidemic and need to be willing to commit to achieving our collective goal of finding a cure. GMHC sent a presidential survey before the Iowa Caucus to all 16 candidates in the race at the time, and it boggles my mind that only three replied.
In 2016, you do not get to run for president of the United States and not be willing to answer questions about how you plan to address one of the worst epidemics of our time. GMHC is challenging the remaining candidates running to sit down with HIV and AIDS activists and engage in the kind of dialogue that we did today.
We all agree that if you are running for president of the United States, you should answer our questions, hear our concerns, and listen to our proposals.
We are very grateful that Hillary kept her word and met with us today. I was especially pleased that she addressed stigma as one of the main drivers of the epidemic in this country and her commitment to addressing this stigma if elected president is the kind of leadership needed to end HIV and AIDS.
The conversation also reflected her in-depth knowledge of policy, as well as the sense of urgency that is critical to finding a cure.
That same sense of urgency will be reflected this Sunday when GMHC hosts the 31st annual AIDS Walk New York in Central Park.
AIDS Walk NY started when our president would not even say the word AIDS.
Today, it remains an annual event that reminds us of how far we have come, and of the reality that we must work together to finally celebrate the end of HIV and AIDS.
Gay Men's Health Crisis the nation's leading provider of HIV and AIDS care, prevention services and advocacy, serving nearly 9,000 people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS in New York City, the epidemic's largest U.S. epicenter. As the world's first HIV and AIDS service organization, GMHC is an expert in providing services that every person affected by the epidemic deserves.