On behalf of the San Francisco Community Health Center, our partners, constituents, and community members, we strongly condemn the recent decision made by health officials in Tennessee to reject federal funding for groups that provide services to residents living with HIV. This decision is not only detrimental to the goal of ending the HIV epidemic in the state, but it also sets a dangerous precedent for other states to follow.
HIV is a severe public health issue that requires ongoing and comprehensive testing, prevention, and treatment efforts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1.2 million people in the United States were living with HIV in 2019, and nearly 38,000 new HIV infections occurred that year. Rejecting federal funding for these efforts puts marginalized communities, such as gay and bisexual men, transgender populations, heterosexual women, and people who inject drugs, at a higher risk for HIV and hinders progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Ending the HIV epidemic requires a comprehensive approach that includes all pillars of prevention, such as testing, prevention, and treatment. The CDC states that “combination prevention, which includes a combination of biomedical, behavioral, and structural interventions, is the most effective way to reduce HIV transmission and improve health outcomes for people living with HIV.” Rejecting federal funding for HIV services without a clear plan for how to fund these services on its own undermines this approach and will impede progress in achieving the goal of ending the HIV epidemic.
Additionally, we believe that access to HIV testing, prevention, and treatment should be status neutral and available to all, regardless of their HIV status. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), “status-neutral service delivery is essential for reaching people who are at higher risk of HIV and for ending the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030.”
We urge health officials in Tennessee to reconsider their decision and work with federal agencies such as the CDC and WHO to ensure that funding for HIV testing, prevention, and treatment remains available for all those in need. We call on the Tennessee Department of Health to provide a clear plan for funding these vital services without federal funding and ensure that these services are status-neutral and comprehensive.
As a community health center, we remain committed to providing comprehensive and accessible healthcare services to all community members, including those living with HIV. We will continue to advocate for the rights of marginalized communities and fight against any actions that would jeopardize the health and well-being of our patients. We stand in solidarity with those affected by this decision in Tennessee and call for increased funding for HIV services across the United States to achieve the goal of ending the HIV epidemic.
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About San Francisco Community Health Center:
San Francisco Community Health Center is an LGBTQ and people of color community health center that believes everyone deserves to be healthy and offers the highest quality medical, dental, and behavioral health care. We foster resilience, belonging, and healing for all communities. To us, health care will always be grounded in social justice.
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