Log Cabin Republicans Call for Renewed Commitment on World AIDS Day
(Washington, DC) – December 1, 2007 marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day, a single day to bring focus and attention to HIV/AIDS. "Log Cabin is committed to helping re-focus attention to the HIV/AIDS plight both here at home and abroad," said Log Cabin President Patrick Sammon. "More than 25 years after the first reported cases of HIV/AIDS, too many Americans are still becoming infected and dying from this preventable disease."
In 2007, there are approximately 33.2 million persons living with HIV disease worldwide, including well over one million Americans. Since the beginning of this epidemic over 25 million people have died from complications due to AIDS; 2.1 million people will die from this preventable disease in 2007 alone.
"HIV/AIDS is a human tragedy of epic proportions," said Sammon. "This day offers an opportunity to reflect on the successes and challenges associated with efforts to combat HIV disease both in the United States and abroad. While we have made great strides in fighting this disease, we must do more."
Log Cabin stepped up its involvement in these issues this year by bringing Dr. David Reznik on board as our HIV/AIDS policy consultant. "The solution to the HIV/AIDS problem requires a renewed commitment from every American," said Dr. Reznik. "Whether Republican or Democrat, black or white, gay or straight, this is our problem as Americans and we must work together to combat this disease. I am leading Log Cabin's efforts on this issue because we need lasting solutions to address this challenge."
Despite the incredible challenges that still exist, there have been tremendous successes including medical advances that have turned this incurable disease into a more chronic, manageable disease for some; the reauthorized Ryan White program, which provides life saving treatment and care to the many uninsured and underinsured Americans with living with HIV; and rapid HIV screening, which can now be performed outside of traditional hospital and testing settings.
On the international front, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has brought much needed treatment, care and hope to many of the world's most vulnerable citizens infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
26 years since the first cases of what would later be known as HIV disease were identified in Los Angeles, many challenges remain. Efforts to create a vaccine suffered a severe setback this year when a large trial by the National Institute of Health was halted as it failed to protect against HIV. Research into microbicide development has yet to produce any positive results.
Log Cabin recently participated in a summit to highlight the HIV/AIDS epidemic among black men. A 2005 study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in five major cities showed that 46% of black gay men had acquired HIV and that 67% of those infected were unaware of their HIV status.
A recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association addressed the reemerging HIV/AIDS epidemic in the GLBT community. The infection rate among gay men in the U.S. has increased over 13% since 2001. Thirteen western European countries report a 55% increase in HIV infections among men who have sex with men.
Very important challenges must be overcome for progress to occur in the fight against HIV in the United States: addressing the stigma associated with this disease; implementation of routine HIV screening for all Americans, especially at risk populations including sexually active men who have sex with men; and evidenced-based prevention efforts that target at risk youth. It is time for a paradigm shift in how we look at HIV screening. Just as with breast cancer, early detection and linkage to care equates with better outcomes. Log Cabin is committed to addressing these challenges so the tragedy that affected an earlier generation will not be repeated.