Executive Directors urge re-engagement in fight to end the epidemic
As Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month begins, executive directors from 35 LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations from across the United States, including Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), have released a joint letter and a video, committing themselves and their organizations to re-engaging the broader LGBT community in the fight against HIV.
“HIV continues to have a disproportionate and devastating impact on our community,” said Lee Swislow, Executive Director of GLAD. “All of us in the community should consider it our issue, and commit our time, talent, and resources to ending the epidemic.” Despite making up just two percent of the population, gay and bisexual men accounted for more than 63 percent of new HIV infections in 2010. In fact, gay men are the only group in which HIV infections are increasing.
GLAD’s AIDS Law Project has been at the forefront of fighting HIV discrimination in state and federal courts since its founding in 1984, litigating nearly 100 HIV-related cases . In 1998, GLAD won a Supreme Court victory withBragdon v. Abbott, which established that people with HIV are protected from discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
GLAD continues its HIV work today, most recently focusing on access to health care for people living with HIV. The Treat Lipodystrophy Coalition (TLC), spearheaded by GLAD, is working to pass An Act Relative to HIV-Associated Lipodystrophy Treatment. This bill in the Massachusetts legislature requires private insurers, MassHealth, and the Group Insurance Commission to provide medical treatment for lipodystrophy, a disfiguring side-effect of lifesaving, but highly toxic, HIV medications.
“HIV is still the most stigmatized health condition in our society, and it has a profound impact on the lives of gay men,” said Bennett Klein, Director of GLAD’s AIDS Law Project. “Fear and discrimination have hardly been eradicated, so we all must continue the fight.”
The entire letter and accompanying video can be viewed online here: www.wethelgbt.org
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders is New England’s leading legal organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity and expression.