Earlier today, Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the White House to mark World AIDS Day this Saturday, despite the politician’s long-documented history of anti-gay views, as well as the administration’s ongoing failure to demonstrate interest in HIV/AIDS relief for queer and trans people in the U.S. Pence announced that Trump will sign a legislation extending the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, an HIV/AIDS program that’s helped millions of Africans since 2003. Pence also announced that $100 million will be given to religious organizations that help prevent the spread of HIV.
“President Trump believes this reauthorization is a critical component of our administration’s commitment to combat AIDS,” Pence said.
Mike Pence's infamous aversion to LGBTQ people dates as far back as the year 2000. In fact, Pence suggested defunding the Ryan White Care Act, which provides federal funding for HIV/AIDS patients, suggesting the money instead go to conversion therapy programs.
A statement on an archived version of the website for Mr. Pence’s congressional campaign reads:
“Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”
In April of this year, the HRC released a video calling attention to the Vice President’s history of failures around HIV and AIDS prevention for the past 18 years.
“Mike Pence has spent his career putting people in danger by denying them access to HIV prevention and treatment,” said Ashland Johnson, HRC’s director of public education and research, in a statement accompanying the video.
“From spreading misinformation about condom use, to contributing to a major outbreak of HIV and AIDS in his home state, Pence has been reckless with the health and lives of those he is sworn to serve, choosing to promote a dangerous ideology over making the right decisions for the American people,” Johnson said.
Pence has not slowed down his attack on the LGBTQ community. September of this year, Mike Pence became the first sitting Vice President to speak at the anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council’s Value Voters summit.
Not to mention, the White House has previously proposed to cut $1 billion from global HIV funding in 2019, a 20% reduction from the previous administration. Ironically, those cuts would have primarily affected the PEPFAR program, which he praised earlier today.
This past September the Trump administration reallocated $5.7 million from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program to fund refugee support programs for detaining more immigration children.
And the Trump administration still, 11 months later, hasn’t appointed anyone to lead the White House Office of National HIV/AIDS council, all of which were either dismissed or left because “The Trump Administration has no strategy to address the on-going HIV/AIDS epidemic.”