Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been elected to lead the United States at a moment of crisis. Since Donald Trump’s election in 2016, America’s worst tendencies domestically and globally have been not just exposed, but thrust into primetime and catalyzed with jet fuel. Trump’s rejection of science and his decision to let COVID-19 run rampant have resulted in more than 235,000 people in the U.S. dead, with Black, Latino, Native communities and incarcerated people hit the hardest. Racists have inflicted violence with impunity, urged on by the Trump administration’s policies and rhetoric. Their policy agenda exacerbated deadly health inequities and limited the rights of LGBTQ+ people, women, and immigrants. Trump led the U.S. to retreat from the global community, reinstating and expanding the deadly Global Gag Rule, obstructing efforts by low-income countries to expand their access to affordable COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, and withdrawing from the World Health Organization at the exact moment when greater solidarity is needed as the world confronts multiple deadly pandemics. The AIDS pandemic in the U.S. and around the world is fueled by the inequalities Trump has used his time as president to amplify.
Now, the health and lives of people most affected by HIV around the world hinge on whether President-elect Biden will use his time in pursuit of a world where all people living with HIV have access to life-saving treatment, where healthcare is a human right, where the U.S. uses its power to confront pharmaceutical company greed, where LGBTQ+ rights and women’s rights are protected, and where COVID-19 treatments and vaccines are accessible to all, no matter where they live.
President-elect Biden has pledged to listen to the experts and lead with science- and evidence-based health policies. As leader of the U.S., the single largest funder of the global AIDS response, President-elect Biden has the power to lead a global effort to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. As candidates, Biden and Harris made bold commitments about how they would work to end pandemics. Their administration must act quickly to turn those commitments into concrete action. We know that if those plans are going to succeed, the incoming Biden-Harris administration must also reject false scarcity and work with Congress to deliver the emergency COVID-19 relief funding that will protect hard-fought gains against HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria.
A Biden-Harris administration gives the global health justice movement its best chance for powerful North-South solidarity to reverse the unequal health outcomes that stem from pharmaceutical company greed, extreme and growing wealth inequality, and deadly nationalism. A commitment to global health is key for justice and equity — in the U.S. and in the world. Fighting for justice is core to our work, following the lead of HIV+ leaders, Black leaders, queer leaders, women, and young people. A Biden White House gives us a shot, but we are clear-eyed about the fact that it’s going to take relentless activism and greater commitment from U.S. officials to achieve global health justice – particularly for the poorest and most marginalized among us.