Secretary Becerra Delivers Remarks at White House World AIDS Day Event

Xavier Becerra

World AIDS Day Commemoration Event
White House

President Biden and HHS Secretary Becerra deliver remarks to commemorate World AIDS Day, launch the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, and kick off the Global Fund Replenishment process.

As Prepared for Delivery

Good afternoon, everyone. Let me start by thanking President Biden and the White House for hosting us, and for their steadfast leadership over the past year.

I also want to thank our extraordinary team at HHS: Dr. Francis Collins, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Admiral Rachel Levine, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Assistant Secretary Loyce Pace, and so many other leaders who help our Department improve the health and well-being of the American people.

And finally, I want to recognize the generations of activists who have made their voices heard in the fight against HIV.

People like Pedro Zamora, an HIV educator and television star who died of AIDS-related complications in 1994.

Before his passing, Pedro asked the world a simple question. He said, “I wonder now, as I look around me, who is going to pick up my torch?”

Today, we are still fighting to end the HIV epidemic. But we have not let Pedro’s torch be extinguished. Nor have we forgotten the 36 million people who have died from AIDS-related illnesses around the globe.

As Secretary of Health and Human Services, I’m proud to lead a department and serve in an administration that is confronting the HIV epidemic head on.

Look no further than the new National HIV/AIDS Strategy that President Biden released today.

Over the past few months, HHS has worked together with the White House and other agencies to develop a whole-of-society response to the HIV epidemic.

This strategy provides a roadmap for ending the epidemic by advancing equity, expanding resources, and engaging those who have lived this struggle, including:

  • Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men;
  • Racial and ethnic minorities, especially African Americans and Latinos;
  • Transgender women and heterosexual women;
  • People who use drugs; and
  • People experiencing homelessness or unstable housing.

HHS will play a critical role in implementing this strategy. And we’re already leading the way through the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. initiative (EHE).

Like the new HIV Strategy, the EHE initiative is focused on ending this epidemic by 2030.

EHE will provide additional support to the 50 jurisdictions where more than half of the country’s new HIV diagnoses occur, as well as seven states with a disproportionate occurrence of HIV in rural areas.

And I will be working closely with my Assistant Secretary for Health, Admiral Rachel Levine, and the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS to support this new national strategy.

Our HHS agencies will also continue to support the global fight to end HIV through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

We’re working with countries around the world to train health care workers and improve detection, apply the latest research and safest medications, and provide life-saving treatment to those in need. 
We’re partnering with the World Health Organization and others to advance critical policies that will save lives. And last month, the United States announced that we will be hosting the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment Conference.

Back in June, HHS marked the 40th anniversary of the first official report about AIDS in 1981.

We have come a long way in the last four decades. But as this year’s World AIDS Day theme reminds us, we still have plenty of work to do to ensure equitable access to HIV services and end this epidemic.

And we need everyone’s voice to make that happen—we all have a role to play, whether we are in government, health care, the private sector, or community-based organizations.

On World AIDS Day, we remember all those we’ve lost. The faces in the frames. The names on the quilt. The millions gone too soon.

Let’s honor them the best way we know how: By picking up their torch and keeping it burning.

Thank you.

Now I’m pleased to welcome one of our community partners, a fellow Californian, Gabriel Maldonado. As CEO of TruEvolution, Gabe leads an organization that offers HIV prevention and care services. And we’re thrilled he – and his mother – could join us today. Gabe, the floor is yours.

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