In December 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released startling new data that showed HIV was still plaguing the gay community. While new HIV infections had remained steady in the general public between 2008 and 2010, infections had risen by an incredible 22 percent and that young gay men represented two-thirds of new infections. The CDC also reported that a shocking 6,000 gay men were dying of AIDS every year.
In a recent U.S. News and World Report story on the subject they found out that AIDS awareness, prevention and lobbying is shclingly not a priority for the Human Rights Campaign or any of the major national LGBT organizations.
When HRC spokesman Michael Cole-Schwartz lists off the priorities for the organization, the list is long: gay marriage, workplace nondiscrimination protections, safe schools, corporate support and benefits for employees, fostering positive places of worship. He doesn’t name HIV/AIDS.
Choosing priorities, Cole-Schwartz says, is a “balancing act” and the issue of HIV/AIDS is one he says “thankfully we haven’t had to deal with too much.” Most of HRC’s work on the disease, he says, is done through partnerships or coalitions. And while HRC is currently lobbying for the Early Treatment for HIV Act, which would allow states to provide Medicaid coverage for low-income people with HIV, and previously lobbied for the Ryan White Care Act, the largest federal program for people with HIV/AIDS most of lobbying is done by HRC partners, Cole-Schwartz said.
But it’ it’s not just the HRC. HIV/AIDS isn’t a top priority for any of the three major LGBT groups in the U.S.: not the HRC, or the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), or the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) – who together are somewhat pejoratively known as “Gay Inc.”
HRC and “Gay Inc” has pumped countless man hours and millions of dollars directly into the repeal of DADT and state gay wide marriage but does not consider AIDS a priority to work on?
And while HRC does state that most of it’s AIDS work is outsourced and done through partnerships or coalitions sources claim that less than 1% of it’s over $40 million dollar annual budget is used for AIDS issues. (That is roughly the same amount as HRC President Chad Griffin’s annual salary. $365,000.oo+)
HRC would neither confirm or deny the figure because it doesn’t break down its spending by issue type.
The fact that HRC and other mutli-million dollar and highly staffed LGBT organizations cannot spare time and and more money to directly fight and work on such an important and life threatening issues as AIDS that is killing thousands yearly is mind boggling and highly distressing.
This year at Netroots Nation 2013 held in San Jose, CA. LGBT activists Todd Heywood, Lisa Derrick, Teddy Partridge and a small group of other concerned grassroots attendees realized the need to encourage National HIV Testing Day and decided to encourage folks to get tested for HIV. With $9.00 of paper flyers, 72 hours of outreach, and the use of social media and the #TestMe hashtag this group of small but impassioned activist reached out and were joined by Planned Parenthood, the Office of Public Engagement at the White House and scores of local advocacy groups, individual bloggers, and media outlets and got the message out to over 1.5 million people.
If they could do this $9.00 and 3 days. Imagine what HRC and others could do and the lives that they could help save if only they got their” priorities” straight.