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What's at Stake in Trump's America? HIV Community Leaders Share Their Opinions

November 16, 2016

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Emergency Plan

Credit: Waldemarus for iStock via Thinkstock

By Election Day Nov. 8, after an eventful primary season and a noxious election cycle, it seemed that most HIV advocates were ready to get to work with a soon-to-be President-elect Hillary Clinton's soon-to-be administration, to continue the pioneering work activists forged under President Obama in addressing HIV in the U.S.

Then the unthinkable happened. In the wee hours of Nov. 9, Donald J. Trump was declared the president-elect of the United States.

Through the devastation, sadness, terror, rage and triggering of past trauma that resulted from facing the reality of a president who "wears his racism, xenophobia and misogyny on his chest like badges of honor," organizations and individuals in the HIV community began to share their perspectives, plans, wisdom and encouragement with their wounded constituencies.

Keep checking this page, as we will continue to incorporate new statements and opinion pieces on the election as they are published on

Some recurring themes:


Acknowledging the Depth of Defeat

"A demagogue who has pledged to destroy our communities and campaigned on open and enthusiastic contempt for our lives -- as transgender people, as people of color, as people of different faiths and abilities and citizenship status -- has been elected to the highest office in our country." -- Kris Hayashi, Transgender Law Center, "We Survive. We Resist"

"I do think we should acknowledge that this is the worst electoral defeat for the moderate democratic coalition of our lifetime." -- William McColl, AIDS United, "HIV Under Trump: Policy Analyst on What Stays, What's Cut"

"Do not listen when someone tells you it will all be OK. It will not. For people living with HIV and those that advocate alongside them, a Trump White House coupled with a Republican-controlled Congress is nothing less than a waking nightmare." -- Drew Gibson, "In a Trump Presidency, Portents of Stigma and Sickness for People Living With HIV"

"I can't imagine Donald Trump, a man who has been accused and sued by the federal government for his racist and xenophobic practices, having the capacity to sit with me at the table and discuss the needs of my community. ...

"[Trump's vice president and transition team leader] Mike Pence has had a history of being against the LGBTQ community during his tenure as a candidate and a political official." -- George M. Johnson, "Waking Up in a Country Where the President-Elect Has No HIV Strategy"

"Rolling back gay marriage and reproductive rights are also on the agenda. We can fully expect increased federal assault on immigrants and cities and states that protect them." -- Charles King, Housing Works, "Reflections From Housing Works CEO Charles King on the Election"

Balancing What Has Changed With What Will Not

"Resistance in the face of terror is nothing new for our communities. Our bodies are transgressive: black, brown, and otherwise pigmented; queer; HIV-containing; border-crossing." -- Positive Women's Network - USA, "I (Still) Believe That We Will Win"

"We still live in a very divided nation -- divided by politics, race, class, gender, generation and geography. ... The challenges facing the working-class and poor Americans -- who were completely ignored this election season -- are overwhelming. And the difficulties of providing health care to all -- including the possibility of ending the AIDS epidemic -- still loom large." -- Phill Wilson, Black AIDS Institute, "Working the Grief, Pain, Fear and Anger of the 2016 Presidential Election"

"The Ryan White Program will remain in place. ... The President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is bipartisan and considered to be one of President Bush's main achievements, so that seems likely to stay in place.

"Funding for fighting the opioid epidemic will likely remain in place, although some of the funding may shift away from treatment and toward law enforcement.

"[Though the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be repealed, s]ome popular elements may remain ... Probably they will have to retain the prohibition on denying coverage of pre-existing conditions." -- William McColl

"Last week ... a collective of community organizations and AIDS service providers came together to celebrate survival and connection ... . The room was filled with people from different communities in the Bay Area, many of whom in earlier decades of the epidemic might have struggled to organize with each other, cautious about each other's identities and in competition for limited funding and resources. We talked easily about treatment access and how different communities could support each other. ...

"[T]here are moments of hope, both explicit and subversive." -- Keiko Lane, "Anticipating Trump, an HIV Psychotherapist Considers Long-Term Survival and Solidarity"

Drawing Strength From Collective Power

"The U.S. election results imperil the social, political and legal progress made over the last few decades by HIV, harm reduction, sex worker, drug user and LGBTQ activists and communities. As such, we will redouble our efforts in promotion of evidence- and rights-based HIV interventions." -- Global Network of People Living With HIV, "Global Key Population Networks Stand in Solidarity With U.S. Activists"

"We are a community forged by worse adversity than we face today. We remain radically inclusive, knowing that inclusion increases all of us. We choose love, not hate. We choose hope, not fear. And together we stand in the light and invite others to join us. Our journey for social justice and health equity just became a bit steeper, and we have much work ahead. But we have come too far to turn back now." -- Charles King

"It is unthinkably cruel that we who have survived so much hatred and violence woke up this morning to a society further emboldened to target and demean us. But we are resilient. We are brilliant and beautiful and powerful. We have a legacy of fierce trans leaders whose work we build on. We will continue our work of fighting for liberation, and I believe that we will win." -- Kris Hayashi

"It is important for all of us -- particularly those of us who feel the most pain at this moment -- to find a way to communicate that we have a shared pain and that America is stronger, healthier and more prosperous when we resist efforts to relieve suffering by inflicting suffering on others. America is great when we raise all boats." -- Phill Wilson

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Emotional Survival Skills for Dangerous Times
Waking Up in a Country Where the President-Elect Has No HIV Strategy
Damon Jacobs on Coping the Day After Trump's Victory
World AIDS Day 2016

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