- The Washington Times
Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The White House on Wednesday called racism a public health crisis and extended the administration’s focus on racism and White supremacy to the effort to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The declaration was included in the administration’s new HIV/AIDS strategy, which details how the government plans to fight the virus over the next four years. It was updated Wednesday in recognition of World AIDS Day.

“Here at home we saw entire communities devastated by this disease, particularly among the LGBTQ-plus individuals and members of racial and ethnic minority groups,” President Biden said in remarks at the White House.

The new strategy alleges that “structural inequities have resulted in racial and ethnic health disparities that are severe, far-reaching and unacceptable.”

It also identified Black women, trans women, and Black, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native men as “priority populations.”

“This strategy takes on racial and gender disparities in our health system,” Mr. Biden said.

He said the strategy, which is the nation’s third HIV plan, will advance the U.S. toward ending the HIV epidemic by 2030. There is no still no cure or vaccine for HIV, but new treatments have helped prevent infection.

Black people account for a higher proportion of new HIV infections, compared to other races and ethnicities, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although Black people make up about 13% of the U.S. population, they account for roughly 42% of new HIV infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hispanics accounted for about 25% of new HIV infections, but make up about 18.5% of the U.S. population.

Whites, meanwhile, accounted for nearly 30% of HIV infections across the U.S., while making up 60% of the population.

Overall, more than 36 million people across the globe, including 700,000 in the U.S., died of HIV/AIDS over the past 40 years. About 1.1 million people in the U.S. were living with HIV at the end of 2019, according to the CDC.

In a bid to address the racial disparities, the new strategy requires officials to focus on the needs of disproportionately affected communities; promote racial justice initiatives to reduce stigmas associated with HIV, and boost job opportunities for people living with or at risk of HIV.

Earlier this year, the CDC declared racism a serious public health threat and said it would take action to address the issue. In particular, the CDC said communities of color had been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In October, New York joined a host of other municipalities to declare racism a public health crisis and issued guidelines to achieve a more “racially just” recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The White House‘s declaration, however, is the first time the government has linked HIV/AIDS treatment and diagnosis to racism.

Mr. Biden acknowledged the resilience of the HIV/AIDS community, honoring the progress it has made over the past 40 years. World AIDS Day marks the 40th anniversary of the CDC officially reporting the first cases.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC.