Human Rights Campaign Marks World AIDS Day

Wednesday December 1, 2021

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) marks World AIDS Day 2021 with a slate of events designed to bring together LGBTQ+ communities around the world to rewrite the narrative and end the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

"Each year, on December 1st, we take a moment to reconnect with why we work to bring an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, remember those we have lost, and recommit to continuing the fight against stigma," said Joni Madison, Interim President of the Human Rights Campaign. "LGBTQ+ people in the United States and elsewhere are at significantly higher risk of negative health outcomes connected with HIV and AIDS — and this risk is even higher for Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ people. We can end the HIV epidemic, but we must start by reducing these health disparities and fighting back against the stigma faced by this community."

"Each year, World AIDS Day reminds all of us how far we have come in addressing the epidemic — and how much farther we have to go," said J. Maurice McCants-Pearsall, Director of the HIV and Health Equity Program at the Human Rights Campaign. "It's imperative for us to take this moment to shine a light on health disparities and continue our work building innovative new programs - like our first-of-its-kind in-home HIV testing program or our work with Gen-Z changemakers - to bring this epidemic to an end."

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than 1.1 million people in the U.S. living with HIV, and approximately 40,000 new diagnoses each year. The virus continues to disproportionately affect members of the LGBTQ+ community.

The HIV lifetime risk is one in six for gay and bisexual men, one in four for gay and bisexual Latinx men, and one in two for gay and bisexual Black men. At least one in 20 transgender women live with HIV, Black transgender women are at least three times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV, and Latinx transgender women are at least one and a half times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV as compared with the population as a whole.

Earlier this year, HRC partnered with Us Helping Us, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, to provide free in-home HIV testing kits for the first time, with the intent to reach communities disproportionately impacted by HIV. As part of this commitment, HRC has pledged to provide a minimum of 5,000 kits this year.

Current data confirms that the availability of HIV self-tests in the United States would not only increase HIV awareness but would also expand access to testing among communities who would not otherwise get an HIV test in traditional healthcare settings. The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 gets tested for HIV at least once per year as part of routine healthcare and once every three months for gay and bisexual men.

HRC has announced its newest cohort of GENERATE peer facilitators. As the next phase of the My Body, My Health campaign, GENERATE was created to mobilize Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ youth to join together and advance efforts to end HIV and promote sexual health through advocacy, education, and storytelling. In partnership with HRC, these 18-24-year-olds promote sexual health on college campuses and within local LGBTQ+ communities to finally build a generation free of HIV.