Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, praised the “incredible courage and dignity and strength and activism” the LGBTQ community showed during the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the face of “extraordinary stigma” that helped change the tide for public perception.
Fauci made the remarks during the daily White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing when responding to COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on Black and Latino Americans, saying the disease has “shed a light” on health disparities in the United States much like HIV/AIDS did when it ravaged the LGBTQ community.
In Michigan, for example, African Americans represent 35% of all coronavirus cases and 40% of coronavirus deaths even though they only make up 14% of the state’s population.
As head of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, Fauci was responsible for developing medications to treat HIV/AIDS at the height of epidemic – many drugs that are still used today, according to the Washington Blade.
“During that time, there was extraordinary stigma, particularly against the gay community,” Fauci said at a press conference yesterday, while standing right in front of Mike Pence, one of the U.S.’s best known sources of anti-gay stigma. “And it was only when the world realized how the gay community responded to this outbreak with incredible courage and dignity and strength and activism — I think that really changed some of the stigma against the gay community, very much so.”
“When you’re in the middle of a crisis, like we are now with the coronavirus, it really does have ultimately shine a very bright light on some of the real weaknesses and foibles in our society.”
When Pence was running for Congress in 2000, his campaign website’s policy section stated that Congress should conduct an audit to see if federal money is “being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus.”
“Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior,” his website said at the time.
In Congress, Pence voted against all LGBTQ legislation, calling it part of a “radical social agenda” and saying that LGBTQ families are not “the safest harbor for children.”