It’s tradition that World AIDS Day be marked by a proclamation from the sitting president of the United States. Usually, a well-worded announcement is released by the White House giving a brief history on the disease and noting the progress we, as a country and global society, have made in combating the disease.
In an unsurprising turn of events that should shock precisely no one, Donald Trump’s first World AIDS Day proclamation made zero mention of the LGBTQ community. Though the disease was once solely thought to be carried by people in the LGBTQ community before it was more understood, Trump and his team didn’t seem to find it fitting to include them in the proclamation, whereas last year, Barack Obama mentioned them in the first paragraph after his introduction. “As we remember those who have died and those who are suffering, we commend the immense effort people have made to control and end the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” the proclamation reads.
The only group specifically mentioned by Trump are “adolescent girls and young women” in sub-Saharan African countries, “who are up to 14 times more likely to contract HIV than men.” Never mind the fact that around the world men who have sex with men and transgender people of color are among the highest risk demographics for contracting the virus.
Compared to Obama’s World AIDS Day proclamation of 2016, another stark contrast is noticeable. Where Obama touched multiple times on new investments being made in different sectors to fight toward a cure, with exact sums being disclosed, Trump mentions a specific number only once, and it’s the “lifetime medical costs” saved by reduced infection rates.
To truly commemorate World AIDS Day, you should get tested. It was clear long before the election that Donald Trump had no intention of being a friend to the LGBTQ community, and this blatant erasure is a chilling echo of how silent the government was during the advent of the AIDS crisis. Read the 2017 proclamation, here.