Hillary Clinton speaks out against homophobia for World AIDS Day



U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said yesterday the U.S. government must "stand against any efforts" to discriminate against the LGBT community worldwide.

The remark came during a ceremony Monday afternoon, Nov. 30, to mark World AIDS Day, which is observed on Dec. 1 every year. The ceremony was held at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which houses White House administrative offices.

Clinton used the occasion to announce that the International AIDS Society has agreed to hold its 2012 International Conference on AIDS in Washington, D.C. -- the first time the preeminent AIDS conference has been held here since 1989.

The first International Conference on AIDS was held in 1984 in Atlanta, home of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The conference was held in San Francisco in 1989, but was banned from the United States following that conference, because the U.S. had passed a law prohibiting people with HIV infection from traveling to this country.

Jeffrey Crowley, the openly gay director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, said President Obama is "thrilled" the International Conference will be held in Washington in 2012.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that ending the ban on HIV immigration and enabling the conference to take place in the United States "shows our commitment to fighting this epidemic and the stigma surrounding it."

"Now is the time to redouble our efforts, not just abroad, but here at home, where HIV/AIDS still infects 56,000 and kills 14,000 Americans each year," said Sebelius. "That’s why my department is devoting new energy and resources to reduce the spread of HIV, improve treatments for people with AIDS, and eliminate HIV-related health disparities here in the U.S."

President Bush signed legislation in 2008 to end the statutory ban on people with HIV entering the U.S. President Obama on Oct. 30 directed the Department of Health and Human Services to end its long-standing policy of banning people with HIV from the U.S. The new policy will take effect beginning early next year, said Clinton.

At the press event, Eric Goosby, the president’s U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, noted that it has been 20 years since the last International Conference on AIDS was held in the United States in San Francisco.

Sebelius noted that the Obama administration was launching a new HIV education campaign -- the first for the U.S. in 20 years. The new campaign is critical, she said, to address the continued spread of HIV in this country. In 2005, she said, the CDC found that almost half of all African American gay men in five major U.S. cities are HIV positive.

Clinton noted that discrimination against LGBT people and others have hampered many efforts at HIV outreach and treatment, making the fight against discrimination important to the fight against HIV.

Discrimination against LGBT people, she said, is "an unacceptable step backwards" in the fight for human rights generally "and undermines the effect of efforts to fight disease worldwide."

Lisa Keen, Bay Windows


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