News » AIDS

Trump Planning to Announce Effort to Eradicate AIDS During State of the Union Address?

by Kilian Melloy
Monday Feb 4, 2019

Is the president planning to announce a new initiative to eradicate AIDS during his State of the Union Address, scheduled to take place on Feb. 5?

According to a story published by Politico, Donald Trump is planning to do just that.

"Under Trump's 10-year strategy, health officials would target the U.S. communities with the most HIV infections and work to reduce transmissions by 2030," the Politico story said.

Given that Trump's vice president, Mike Pence, purportedly enabled a catastrophic outbreak of HIV in Indiana during his time as governor of that state (by delaying, and then only reluctantly permitting, a needle exchange program), and given the Trump administration's efforts to legally erase LGBTQ Americans — in particular, by dropping them from the upcoming 2020 Census and by ordering that trans servicemembers be dismissed from the Armed Forces — the current administration might well face skepticism around the issue.

But several individuals purported to know the contents of the president's planned address told Politico that Mr. Trump is planning to make that pledge. Politico claimed that the rumored "strategy" the president will reportedly outline "has been championed by top health officials, including HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Robert Redfield."

Politico was unable to verify the news despite reaching out to the Department of Health and Human Services and the White House.

Despite more than three decades of battling the HIV epidemic, new infections in America occur at a rate great than 40,000 each year, Politico noted.

Saying that the purported action plan to address the AIDS epidemic has some similarities to an already-announced initiative to combat America's epidemic of opioid addiction, the Politico story revealed that the long-range strategy is to eradicate new infections by 2030.

U.K. news outlet Express reported on the Politico story and noted that previous presidents had similarly used their State of the Union speeches to call for major governmental interventions in health issues. Express recalled that then-president Barack Obama, in his final State of the Union Address, called for a campaign to eradicate cancer.

If adopted, the rumored initiative could help bring down the rate of new infections. Meantime, researchers continue to work on new approaches to eliminate existing reservoirs of HIV in positive people leading healthy lives thanks to effective medication regimens. If those research avenues prove fruitful, a cure could one day be possible.

Until then, education, destigmatization, and the use of proven preventative measures could make a significant dent in the ongoing AIDS epidemic — but only if the government really does prove more interested in improving public health than slashing critical services and seeking to render LGBTQ Americans invisible.

Politico's sources also provided a caveat, saying that the speech's content had not as yet been finalized.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


Comments

Add New Comment

Comments on Facebook