In remarks to commemorate World AIDS Day, Richard Grenell, the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, said rejecting labels is the appropriate treatment.
“This problem also transcends demographics and geography,” Grenell said. “People in the United States and around the world often think of AIDS as a ‘gay disease’ or an ‘African epidemic,’ when the fact is it is neither of those things. HIV and AIDS are global human problems.”
Meanwhile in the U.S., Vice President Mike Pence pledged new funding for faith-based organizations, claiming the groups to be on the “frontline against HIV/AIDS.”
Bob Poe, who ran for Congress in Florida during the 2016 election cycle as an openly gay HIV positive man, was none too pleased with Pence’s speech.
“Mike Pence failed to mention gay people in his World AIDS Day speech,” Poe said. “Pence failed to wear an AIDS ribbon for the speech and didn’t mention homophobia.”
Poe was also critical of the administration’s support for faith-based organizations.
“Faith-based efforts to tackle HIV/AIDS have been strongly criticized for failures to reach out to at-risk LGBT+ people and their advocacy for abstinence-only approaches to HIV prevention over safe sex.”
In his speech, Grenell noted the Ryan White story -one of the first AIDS cases to receive major media attention in the United States that “didn’t involve anyone from the LGBT community or from Africa.”
White was a 13-year-old hemophiliac who died of AIDS in 1990. The Indiana boy’s death pushed Congress to enact comprehensive emergency health care coverage.
“Diseases do not discriminate or fit neatly into labeled boxes – and neither should our policies,” Grenell said.
Andy Eddy, a longtime member of the Broward Log Cabin Republicans and former board member of Poverello, an HIV/AIDS service organization, disagreed with the messaging from Pence and Grenell.
“Vice President Pence and the Administration threw an ignorant-curve ball on their World AIDS Day messaging, subliminally or otherwise,” Eddy said. “Backroom innuendos no longer vigorously thrive and spread as rapidly as they once did on the fertility of ignorance. How sad it is that some have forgotten the Two Greatest Commandments most peace-loving women and men hold dear – not just one day of the week but the remaining six. What activists in the early days of our hard-hit community created through love, caring, and compassion gave birth to much of what we see today, and much of which is made available worldwide, while the odds and challenges they addressed and overcame were thought to be insurmountable.”