Statement Commemorating World AIDS Day 2021
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Ending the HIV Epidemic: Equitable Access, Everyone’s Voice" which reminds us that we must always include the voices of those most impacted by HIV and reaffirm our commitment to distributing resources to communities most in need, assure access to a range of HIV related services, as well as addressing the social determinants of health that place some at greater risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV.
The AIDS Coordinator’s Office has been a leader in developing innovative programs for marginalized and hard to reach populations since 1989, just one year after the very first World AIDS Day commemoration. This year has been especially poignant as we mark 40 years since the first five cases of what later became known as AIDS were officially reported in Los Angeles.
For more than three decades, the ACO has supported syringe collection and other harm reduction services, health education and risk reduction services, and pioneered studies that have benefited marginalized communities, such as those that examined the intersection of HIV, reproductive justice and transmasculine communities, or examining hiring practices among businesses as it relates to hiring transgender people, and our office was the first to identify the relationship between crystal meth and increasing risk for acquiring and transmitting HIV in the City. I believe that the work of our office has greatly impacted our ability to fight HIV in the City and the County. We have cut transmission rates in half among injection drug users in the City, which is something I am proud to have accomplished.
We all know here that the social determinants of health that drive HIV rates include homelessness, substance use, and mental health. These issues are consistently addressed by HIV prevention programs funded by the AIDS Coordinator’s Office, and we are only as successful as our limited resources along with strong partnerships with community-based partners and County counterparts. Yet, we know we must do more. In the face of a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, rising costs of living, insufficient housing, lack of good paying jobs, we know that the mountain we have to climb is steep. But, we can see an end to the HIV epidemic in our lifetime with the right mix of political will, partnerships, funding, continued advances in science—and advocacy for equitable distribution of resources.
The City of Los Angeles is committed to working in concert with local providers, the County of Los Angeles, as well as the state of California to address social determinants of health and end HIV once and for all. Let’s use this day as a call to action