The U.S. State Department, which just quietly erased the reproductive health care section from its annual global human rights report, lamented the spread of HIV among women and girls in a tweet celebrating International Women’s Day Wednesday night.
The tweet belies the fact that President Donald Trump’s policies seek to systematically undermine the global HIV response and dismantle women’s health care access around the globe. His 2019 budget proposal would cut $1.2 billion from global HIV programs like PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Trump’s expanded Global Gag Rule restricts an unprecedented $8.8 billion in U.S. foreign aid for international health programs that provide or even mention abortion. This policy has already begun to shut down or cripple women’s health and family planning clinics throughout sub-Saharan Africa and South America that were providing condoms, birth control and HIV medication to low-income women.
His proposed cuts to the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases would slow HIV research efforts in the U.S. and impair its outreach to other counties.
A group of over 200 global HIV clinicians, doctors and scientists, led by Nobel Prize recipient Dr. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, called out the Trump administration’s hypocrisy in an open letter.
“Science shows us that we can defeat HIV, but not if we defy evidence,” they wrote. “President Trump’s misguided budget proposal, and his Administration’s attempts to scale up policies in defiance of evidence will only undermine the global AIDS response and should be stopped.”
Maybe the International Women’s Day tweets should stop, too.