Wilton Manors resident and HIV/AIDS activist Michael Rajner regularly speaks to the city commission about issues involving the disease. But on May 12, Rajner joined a coalition of 19 other HIV/AIDS activists in a meeting with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at her Brooklyn campaign headquarters.
“It’s a coalition that is representative of many organizations . . . 70 or more,” Rajner said.
In a video of the meeting posted on YouTube, Clinton said, “We do have the tools to end this epidemic once and for all, but we need to rededicate ourselves to fighting HIV and AIDS and leaving no one behind.”
According to the United Nations, 37 million people globally are living with HIV/AIDS, which, Clinton said disproportionately impacts gay and bisexual men, African Americans, transgender individuals and young people.
Clinton outlined her goals for fighting the pandemic: increased research, expansion of the use of medications such as PrEP, capping out of pocket expenses and drug costs, building on President Obama’s national HIV/AIDS strategy, increasing the number of people with access to treatment and reform laws that stigmatize and criminalize those with the disease.
“This issue matters to me deeply. I know many of us have lost friends and loved ones to AIDS,” she said.
Rajner said Clinton responded to the group’s proposals and concerns in a pragmatic way and says she did not “just hastily make promises.”
“I feel very confident [she can help fight HIV/AIDS if elected]. One of the things that is very exciting is we spoke about the impact of stigma and really how no president has done a campaign on stigma.” Rajner went on to say that the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS prevents many people from seeking treatment in the early stages of the disease.
As for Senator Bernie Sanders, Rajner said a meeting has been scheduled with him on May 25 in Los Angeles. “I look forward to being at that meeting.” Sanders had previously scheduled a meeting with the group but postponed. Rajner said Donald Trump’s campaign has shown interest in a meeting but they wanted to wait until they have a policy team formed.