Somewhere in between talk of migrant caravans and attacks against Robert Mueller, Trump used his State of the Union address to announce his newly realized commitment to eradicating HIV from the United States by 2030.
“In recent years we have made remarkable progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS,” Trump told the audience.
“Scientific breakthroughs have brought a once-distant dream within reach. My budget will ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years. Together, we will defeat AIDS in America.”
Of course, wiping out a life-altering, possibly fatal disease is a mission we can all get behind. And while it is an ambitious target, it's not unachievable. However, Trump has not put forward any actual indications on how he plans to reach this goal (other than a vague appeal for cross-party cooperation), and if past actions are anything to go by, the administration is doing far more to hinder than help progress on the whole HIV-eradication front.
Not only has Trump done his best to gut funding for the Affordable Care Act, a lifeline for many people with and without HIV, but he has actually defunded research into the disease and sacked his 16-person HIV/AIDS advisory panel. Hazarding a guess here but that’s not a good start.
Still, perhaps even more hypocritically, Trump announced his new goal while standing in front of Vice-President Mike Pence – a man who, for the record, is largely responsible for one of the worst outbreaks of HIV in recent years.
That is because as Governor, Pence oversaw cuts to public health funding that resulted in a spike of HIV diagnoses in rural Indiana between 2011 and 2015. Despite clear evidence that disease transmission was largely driven by needle-sharing, he refused to heed the advice of officials and put off issuing an executive order that would have permitted clean needle exchange programs to help stem the crisis. (He did, eventually, change his mind after spending some time praying on the matter. And it worked.)
This inconvenient little fact has not gone unnoticed on Twitter.
And not to forget Trump in all this:
To sum up:
On the plus side, Trump now knows the difference between HIV and HPV. So, there’s that.
[H/T: The Daily Dot]