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Letter: Making progress on AIDS requires a strong response to COVID

Los Angeles City Hall is illuminated in red to mark World AIDS Day, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020.
Damian Dovarganes, Associated Press

December’s a special time of year filled with gifts and joy for many Americans. This year it also marked the 32nd World AIDS Day. AIDS was once a death sentence for people like Ryan White. But thanks to innovations in medicine, kids have a better chance at growing up while we work toward a cure. Like Lazarus, over 25 million lives have been restored.

American-led programs like The President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) drove major advances in AIDS prevention and treatment in over 50 countries. This wouldn’t have been possible without America deciding to be bold and aggressive in fighting that epidemic. Now it’s time to double down on COVID-19.

Over 12 million people with HIV/AIDS go untreated, and health inequities stressed by COVID-19 limit access to HIV/AIDS treatment. AIDS-related illnesses are still the leading killer of women under 50. We must respond to COVID-19 equitably; avoiding global hotspots would slow progress against COVID-19 and AIDS, endangering more lives everywhere.

Most Americans on both sides of the aisle agree on a global strategy prioritizing the vulnerable, as a recent Morning Consult poll showed. When making our list this year, let’s remember a strong global response to COVID-19 is a gift the whole world can share.

Naresh Kumar

Salt Lake City