Our New Year’s Resolution for 2018: Speak up, act up loud and clear

December 22, 2017

Released a few weeks ago, AVAC’s annual state-of-the-field report calls for an end to mixed messages about key issues affecting HIV prevention research and implementation. As we come to the end of a year that has been filled with challenges and moments of resilience, collaboration and progress, we want to be clear once more: we cannot give up, and we cannot do this alone.

Over the past several days in the US, a law has passed that many analysts say will increase taxes for poor and middle-class people, and make life even easier for the richest of the rich. There’s also been a flurry of news and action triggered by the report that the US government directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) not to use seven words in its budget requests: diversity, entitlement, evidence-based, fetus, science-based and transgender.

CDC denied the ban, but this hardly matters. A valuable analysis of the last four CDC budget requests—lengthy documents that lay out the agency’s annual plans, priorities and funding needs—shows a dramatic decrease in the number of times CDC used some of the words on the alleged list in its budget requests. In particular, transgender and evidence-based were both nearly erased from these documents, which run hundreds of pages long. This signals worrying programmatic and policy shifts.

Income inequality is a global scourge; censorship is an insidious practice. They are also two facets of the structural violence that drives HIV worldwide. You cannot be an advocate for HIV prevention and accept wealth disparities or any form of silencing as the state of the world.

And so we don’t.

Not today and not ever.

In the past months, AVAC has launched a new program with African transgender rights defenders and activists, and has begun work on a dynamic new phase of coalition-based action aimed at ensuring that people most affected by HIV are at the frontlines of decisions about the HIV response in their communities. Stay tuned for updates about these and all of our activities in the New Year.

In 2018, we’ll keep on working with our partners in these and many other initiatives to speak up, act up and fight back against all of the drivers of the epidemic. Our lives depend on it, and we depend on you as partners in this fight.

In that spirit, we send our great thanks for your partnership and wish you all a holiday season of rest, respite and recharging.