How to Really Defeat HIV

President Donald Trump’s tweet on December 1 recognizing World AIDS day stated that “The First Lady and I express our support for those living with HIV/AIDS and mourn the lost lives,” while adding that his administration is dedicated to eradicating AIDS in 10 years and reaffirming his call for a bipartisan commitment to end the HIV epidemic that he made during his second State of the Union address.

How did the Democrats react to the statement? They are harshly critical, of course. The Democratic National Committee said that Trump is “no ally of people living with HIV, who are disproportionately LGBTQ and people of color.” To translate it from political-hypocritical into plain English, Trump is yet again called a racist -- because there are “people of color” who suffer most from HIV, and a homophobe and transphobe – for the same reason.

Then comes a bizarre “explanation” of this statement: “His [Trump] administration has proposed cutting global HIV-prevention programs and attacked health care services that people living with HIV rely on, including the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and Planned Parenthood,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez, DNC Disability Council Chairman Tony Coelho and DNC LGBTQ Caucus Chairman Earl Fowlkes said in a joint statement.

As is usually the case with Democratic rhetoric, there are some major gaps in its logic, making it simply fallacious, and, therefore, leading to the wrong conclusions.

First, while indeed the Trump administration has proposed slashing the budget for the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) by almost 24 percent, with particularly steep cuts to humanitarian aid, refugee assistance, and global health programs, it is only a half-truth about the Administration’s policy on HIV/AIDS.

The Democrats turn a blind eye to the fact that the Trump administration is calling for unprecedented $291 million for its domestic campaign to stop the transmission of HIV in the United States, and proposing significant new resources for programs that have not received major increases in the past few decades. The increases “are quite significant for those programs, which have essentially had flat funding for the last couple decades,” said Jennifer Kates, director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “If finalized, the budget request would mark the first time in many years where the key U.S. HIV prevention and safety net care programs would see significant increases,” she said. Additionally, the Administration has secured historic donation of billions of dollars in HIV-prevention drug up to 200,000 Americans who are at risk of HIV and who are uninsured, each year for up to 11 years.  In other words, the hopeless bigot Trump is following his cuntomary approach by keeping America -- and Americans -- first. True, we are slashing the diplomatic budget, but we are dramatically increasing domestic funding to fight HIV at home. At the same time, the United States remains the world’s largest contributor to global health and humanitarian efforts. We are still the world’s piggy bank, but the DNC is hard and at times impossible to please.

Second, they claim that “Trump attacked health care services that people living with HIV rely on.” Yes, the Democrats just love it when people rely on the government and the handouts that deepen and expand their dependency. There is nothing worse for the Democrats than economically independent people who rely on themselves, not Big Brother. In our specific case, what is the most vulnerable population for HIV? Poor people. A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that be the most important risk factor for HIV infection among heterosexuals living in urban areas may be poverty. According to the study, HIV is at epidemic levels in certain poor urban areas across the United States, defined by UNAIDS as a prevalence in the general populations of more than 1 percent. What is even more significant is the fact that the poor people living in those cities are twice as likely to be infected as people with incomes above the poverty line in the same neighborhoods. Poverty also exacerbates the challenges for those who are already infected. Unstable housing, food insecurity, and a lack of consistent access to quality health care makes it very difficult to manage what has increasingly become a manageable disease for those with higher incomes and more resources. 

Instead of engaging in an endless smear campaign, Tom Perez and his pals should make an effort and connect the dots: fighting HIV means fighting poverty. Now, there are two fundamental ways to do that: you either provide people with a job or provide them with resources via social programs. To put it simply, you either teach them to fish themselves, or hand them out a fish that somebody else has already caught. Surely, any kind of redistribution of wealth and vast social programs slows down economic growth, even in wealthy countries, which, in the long run, leads to the general decrease of national wealth. Nonetheless, the Democrats choose this way. The Republicans prefer the first route. Low unemployment means stable income means better quality of living means lower disease rates. And that is exactly what President Trump is doing. Since his election, the economy has added over 6.4 million jobs -- more than the population of Maryland. Steady job growth combines with sustained year-over-year wage increases for those numerous African-Americans, Hispanics, women, and people with disabilities who were consistently left behind and now enjoy reengaging into the productive workforce while protecting themselves from the countless dangers that poverty leads to. Should we support a President whose economic policy uplifts millions of Americans? “Impeach him!” screech the Democrats, amid unbelievable hoaxes and accusations. Because all they care about is power, and only the people who “have nothing to lose but their chains” can bring it to them. In contrast, a strong and self-sufficient middle class has no interest in supporting their socialist utopia. For the Democrats, people with HIV/AIDS are only another token to pay for its establishment.

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