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Plus Nov/Dec Issue: PEPFAR & Our Allies and Advocates of the Year

Plus Nov/Dec Issue: PEPFAR & Our Allies and Advocates of the Year

<p>Plus Nov/Dec Issue: PEPFAR & Our Allies and Advocates of the Year</p>

In this issue we cover the far-right's plight to end a global HIV program that has saved millions, and also celebrate eight amazing advocates who are creating change.

Dear Plus reader,

The far-right’s continued legislative attacks on LGBTQ+ and other marginalized communities over the last few years have taken another dangerous turn. Several states have recently cut funding for many local HIV programs — and now, extreme conservatives are pushing to end the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, a 20-year-old global HIV/AIDS program also known as PEPFAR.

“PEPFAR has saved millions of lives,” said Housing Works CEO Charles King, who was arrested in September for protesting the proposal. “It is criminal for some members of Congress to treat it as a political football. AIDS isn’t over until it’s over for everyone. PEPFAR has been essential to helping people in developing countries flatten the curve of HIV transmission. The United States has committed to the international goal of ending AIDS by 2030, and we cannot do that if PEPFAR is threatened.” Read our complete, in-depth cover story (page 14) by Plus’s senior political editor Trudy Ring for all the unfolding details.

PEPFAR was initiated in 2003 by an unlikely ally in the fight against HIV and AIDS — former Republican U.S. president George W. Bush (page 22). And even ol’ George Jr. himself had some harsh words for his fellow GOP members when news broke about the move to end the program that has saved an estimated 25 million lives: “We are on the verge of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic. To abandon our commitment now would forfeit two decades of unimaginable progress and raise further questions about the worth of America’s word.”

Musician and longtime HIV/AIDS advocate Bono, who formed an unexpected friendship with Bush Jr. over the years for their shared passion for PEPFAR, recently commented on the program’s success upon its 20th anniversary celebration this year. “This gathering is an anniversary but not an ending. [It’s] a renewal of values and vows…. Thank you to everyone who got us here today, but especially thank you President Bush.”

In our special Amazing Allies and Advocates section, we also celebrate eight hardworking heroes who’ve dedicated much of their lives to fighting for an end to HIV and its stigma. From award-winning playwrights to brilliant scientists to those advocating for long-term survivors, we are proud to honor this handful of soldiers in the worldwide battle to eradicate the virus.

“I started therapy and started to work on myself and all of the issues that led me to think I didn’t want to live,” says Dominic Colón, an out actor, writer, and producer who has opened up in recent years about living with HIV. “I did not want to be that way, so I had to take steps to heal. But you know, healing is not linear. It takes a longtime. You’re always in the process of healing.” Read more about Dominic’s story and our seven other HIV heroes, starting on page 26.

Be well,

Desirée Guerrero, Editor in Chief


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