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GMHC World AIDS Day 2017 Statement: Facts Matter

12.1.2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Cub Barrett | 212-367-1561 | cubb@gmhc.org

By Kelsey Louie, GMHC CEO
December 1, 2017

As we commemorate World AIDS Day 2017, let’s recommit ourselves to not only doing all we can to end the AIDS epidemic, but to doing so with compassion, deliberateness, smart strategy—and facts.

We’re living in world where facts don’t always seem to matter. But we know—through GMHC’s work and through the work of our partner organizations, universities, research labs, and government agencies—that, to successfully end this epidemic, we must rely on facts and data.

The data tell us that we can prevent new HIV transmissions through education, targeted outreach, and prevention tools like condoms, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

The data tell us that an HIV-positive person who adheres to effective treatment and has an undetectable viral load has an extremely low chance of transmitting HIV to his or her sexual partners.

The data tell us that we need to continue to work with the most at-risk populations—including men who have sex with men (MSM), youth and women of color, injection drug users, and transgender people—to reduce new HIV transmissions.

The data tell us that we need to do more than just encourage HIV testing and safe sex to curb new infections, and that HIV-positive people need more than just medication to remain healthy. Data tells us that we must also focus on mental health, substance use, housing stability, access to nutritious food, and much more. These are all drivers of the epidemic, and GMHC works to address each of them.

And the data tell us that, if we do all these things effectively, we can halt the virus in its tracks. Just this week, the New York City Department of Health announced that new HIV transmissions among MSM living in the city fell by nearly 15% in 2016, while overall infections fell by nearly 9%. That happened, in part, because of effective outreach about proven, data-driven prevention tools—especially PrEP.

Now we need to apply the data from the new report to continue to adapt our prevention and treatment strategies to help all populations. Because of data in the report, we know that we need to do a better job of working with women—a group that saw an increase in HIV infections in the city. And just as we’re using data to influence our strategies, organizations and governments around the world need to continue to confront HIV/AIDS with what data tells them about their local epidemics.

GMHC has been doing this kind of important work for 35 years, and we’ll continue to do it for as long as it takes to end the epidemic. And as we do this work, we’ll continue to rely on the facts to combat not only HIV itself, but also the ignorance, fear, and stigma that still surround HIV/AIDS.

Facts matter. They matter today, on World AIDS Day, and they matter every day. And knowing and talking about facts saves lives—and will help us realize an AIDS-free generation.

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About Gay Men's Health Crisis: Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) is the world's first HIV/AIDS service organization. GMHC is on the front lines providing services to over 12,000 people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Programs include: testing, prevention, nutrition, legal, supportive housing, mental health and substance use services. GMHC also advocates for stronger public policies at the local, state and federal levels with the goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic. For more information, visit  www.gmhc.org.