It is NAPWA’s and my pleasure to congratulate the National Black Leadership Coalition on AIDS and Congresswoman Barbara Lee for hosting tomorrow’s Women Matter! Congressional Briefing and Documentary Screening.
If the first thirty years of this country’s HIV epidemic have taught us anything, it’s that HIV thrives where people are denied justice. The faces of HIV in America are poor people, people of color, women of color, and sexual minorities including men who have sex with men. Racism, gender inequality, homophobia, and exclusion from equal economic opportunity all have health consequences.
Four weeks ago we celebrated the fourth National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day with the slogan, “Because We Matter!” The self-respect and confidence that come from knowing “we” matter – whoever “we” may be – empowers people who have been marginalized to make constructive life decisions and demand fair treatment. Empowerment fights HIV.
Tomorrow NBLCA and Congresswoman Lee will tell their Congressional briefing that women matter. Indeed they do! “We” – all of us – do, and we need to say so loud and clear.
As we head into the most brutal federal budget negotiations in living memory, there will be intense pressure to cut HIV programs instead of expanding them to meet the real need. Women of color, gay men, and all the groups that have borne the brunt of America’s HIV epidemic will need to stand together and say No. “We” matter. Justice matters.