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How Would The 2020 Presidential Candidates End the HIV Epidemic?

On Thursday evening, 10 Democratic presidential candidates gathered together in Houston to debate a wide range of topics, eager to display for the American people their fitness to lead the nation and separate their policies, priorities, and character from that of the others on stage with them and from the man currently in The White House. Over the course of the debate, the candidates expounding on their views concerning universal healthcare, immigration, gun control, and a host of other issues.

Notably absent from the issues discussed was any mention of the HIV epidemic in the United States and the Democratic candidates’ plans to end it. It is AIDS United’s sincere hope and expectation that the omission of any meaningful discussion of HIV—along with that reproductive rights, the overdose epidemic, and LGBTQ rights, among others—will be remedied in future debates. However, until that time, we want to make sure the conversation around the HIV policies of the presidential candidates gets started.

In order to better understand how presidential candidates will take advantage of the unique opportunity we have right now to end to the HIV epidemic, a coalition of more than 50 organizations led by AIDS United and the Act Now End AIDS Coalition, sent a survey to all of the candidates who were running for president. Thus far, we have received responses from 8 of the candidates who are still running for the nation’s highest office, including 6 of the Democratic candidates who were on the debate stage on Thursday night: Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg (Joe Sestak and Steve Bullock also submitted questionnaires, but did not qualify for the debate).

While we encourage you to read all of the presidential candidate responses, here are some of the portions that stood out to AIDS United’s policy team.

Elizabeth Warren on harm reduction, syringe services providers, and supervised consumption sites:

“We need evidence-based solutions to combat the opioid epidemic and if the science shows that supervised injection helps reduce death and get people into treatment programs, then I will support what the science shows. When we have proven ways to reduce harm connected to HIV/AIDS – like needle exchanges to address the multiple use of needles – then I support it.”

Kamala Harris on PrEP Access:

“As president, it will be my priority to expand access to PrEP. I will fight to pass my PrEP Access and Coverage Act which would require all public and private health insurance plans to cover the medication PrEP, as well as the test and visits associated with taking it, without a co-pay. The bill would also support state and local programs that facilitate PrEP access for people who lack Insurance.”

Pete Buttigieg on the importance of housing for people living with HIV:

“Housing is one of the most critical social determinants of health. We have known for some time that those who are stably housed are more likely to have improved health outcomes once they enter care. This has been shown again and again for those living with HIV...I will support increases in HOPWA funding, based on the needs identified in a revitalized National AIDS Strategy. Just as importantly, I will encourage states to explore the use of Medicaid funds to provide more supportive housing and short-term rental assistance, as some are already doing under waiver authority. This is a more stable funding stream and is not dependent on the annual appropriations process.”

Bernie Sanders on reforming the drug development process:

“[Bernie] will also create a multi-billion dollar Prize Fund to reward medical researchers and developers of medicines who create lifesaving drugs for HIV and AIDS treatment and prevention based primarily upon the added therapeutic value a new treatment offers and the number of people it benefits — instead of a system where the market is manipulated to keep out all competition. Under Bernie’s plan, drugs would have generic competition immediately after FDA approval.”

Beto O’Rourke on provider education & HIV care for minority populations:

“Beto would support additional funding for Special Projects of National Significance and AIDS Education and Training Centers, covered by Part F of the Program and for the Minority AIDS Initiative. He is committed to increasing HIV care to minority populations and training to expand the number of providers in underserved communities. An O’Rourke Administration would work to ensure the equality of patient outcomes and service delivery infrastructure throughout the country.” 

Cory Booker on preventing discrimination against transgender individuals seeking health care:

“It is a moral failure of this President and his administration that they rewrote Section 1557 of the ACA -- a section that barred discrimination in health care -- to explicitly exclude transgender Americans. Housing and health care are human rights, and my administration will treat them as such. As President, I will fight to pass the Equality Act, which would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in housing, the workplace and public accommodations.”

Joe Sestak on protecting LGBTQ individuals from systemic mistreatment and violence:

“As President, I will continue fighting for LGBTQ+ people, both in the United States and around the world. I will oppose laws that, under the guise of “religious liberty,” seek to maintain legalized discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in public accommodations. I will work with states and municipalities to address mistreatment or neglectful treatment of LGBTQ+ people by first responders and other public officials. And I will do everything I can to stem the epidemic of bullying and violence against LGBTQ+ people, especially the shockingly high murder rate among transgender people of color, including by using the platform of the presidency to shine a spotlight on individual LGBTQ+ victims to ensure that justice is served.”

Steve Bullock on prohibiting workplace discrimination against LGBTQ individuals:

“It is frightening that millions of Americans can still be fired merely because of who they love. As President, I will sign an executive order ensuring that any federal contractor prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, racial, and gender identity. I will also work with Congress to pass the Equality Act to end discrimination in housing, healthcare, the workplace, and access to benefits.”


Posted By: AIDS United, Policy Department - Friday, September 13, 2019

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