Over 50 HIV, STD, and LGBTQ have signed an open letter urging the White House’s COVID-19 task force to refer to the lessons learned during the HIV/AIDS crisis amid the current coronavirus pandemic, reported Metro Weekly.
AIDS United, Equality California, Human Rights Campaign, National Coalition for LGBTQ Health, the AIDS Institute, and more signed the open letter addressed to Vice President Mike Pence. It was sent by the Federal AIDS Policy Partnership, a national coalition of more than 120 local, regional, and national organizations advocating for funding, legislation, and policy to combat HIV federally.
“As representatives of the community fighting HIV, hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases, and tuberculosis, our organizations have more than three decades of lessons learned about how to stem the tide of deadly pandemics,” the letter reads. “We also know the devastation that is caused when these best practices are not followed, and American lives are unnecessarily lost.”
The letter urges the Trump administration to utilize the pillars from the Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative, which has set the goal of completely ending HIV and AIDS in the US by 2030, when tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. They argue the administration must expand testing “in order to focus on rigorous and universal community testing;” provide resources for “a robust public health surveillance system” to inform decision making; build on existing tracing systems to identity those with COVID-19; and ensure privacy protections to “combat fear of discrimination or legal peril for people in marginalized communities.”
“The White House Coronavirus Task Force should use the lessons learned in our fight against HIV, viral hepatitis, STDs, and TB to inform our nation’s response to COVID-19,” the letter concludes. “COVID-19 testing, surveillance, and contact-tracing must be adequately expanded before the United States goes back to work. If not, we may be stuck in a cycle of on-again, off-again social distancing, continued preventable deaths, and further economic disruption as a result of this terrible disease.”