Today is World AIDS Day and President Donald Trump, like the presidents before him, he released a proclamation.
Unlike former president Barack Obama’s proclamation, it makes no mention of the groups most affected by HIV/AIDS: The LGBTQ community and people of color.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), gay and bisexual men make up 70 percent of new infections, and over 600,000 are currently estimated to be living with the virus.
African Americans are the racial group most affected by HIV in the United States, making up the majority of new infections in 2016. The Latino population is also disproportionately affected.
So too is the transgender community, the CDC reports, noting that half of trans people diagnosed with the virus are African American.
“On this day, we pray for all those living with HIV, and those who have lost loved ones to AIDS,” Trump’s statement reads. “We remain deeply committed to supporting adolescent girls and young women through this program, who are up to 14 times more likely to contract HIV than young men in some sub-Saharan African countries.”
In Obama’s 2016 proclamation, by comparison, the former president specifically named all the groups Trump erased.
“Gay and bisexual men, transgender people, youth, black and Latino Americans, people living in the Southern United States, and people who inject drugs are at a disproportionate risk,” he said. “People living with HIV can face stigma and discrimination, creating barriers to prevention and treatment services.”
In 1993, former president Bill Clinton said in his proclamation that year, “Volunteers across America, members of local service organizations, church groups, gay and lesbian service organizations, and thousands of individuals have heard the summons to action and have given selflessly of their time and energy.”
However, neither former Republican presidents George H.W. Bush nor George W. Bush mentioned the LGBTQ community in their World AIDS Day proclamations either.
World AIDS Day was started in 1988.
Obama recently appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! with a special World AIDS Day message, sharing news of positive developments in the fight against the epidemic.
“Not only did the White House statement on World AIDS Day fail to mention the population in which two-thirds of HIV cases in the U.S. occur — gay and bisexual men — it also failed to point out the disproportionate impact in communities of color, for gay and bisexual men of color, particularly young men of color, or for transgender women,” Scott Schoettes, HIV/AIDS project director for Lambda Legal, said in a statement.
“It is estimated that at current rates, one in two Black gay and bisexual men in this country will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. That is an appalling statistic that we cannot paper over with platitudes,” he said. “Simply put, HIV affects people in some communities more than others, and our federal government cannot turn a blind eye to that.”