Jesse Milan Jr., president and CEO of AIDS United, issued the following statement on the occasion of Rep. John Lewis’ arrival to the U.S. Capitol Monday to lie in state:
“The entire staff and board of AIDS United mourns the loss of Rep. John Lewis. We also join the chorus of voices in the HIV community singing Lewis’ praise. He was a fighter for justice and consistently stood on the side of marginalized people. He dedicated his entire life to making this country a better place and taught us the importance of getting into good trouble.
“There are many good things to say about Lewis, and many people have already said many of them. There are, however, three things that stand out in my mind, especially as it relates to ending the HIV epidemic in the United States.
“Lewis always had an intersectional approach to the work. He wrote in 2013, ‘I have fought too hard and too long against discrimination based on race and color not to stand up against discrimination based on sexual orientation. I’ve heard the reasons for opposing civil marriage for same-sex couples. Cut through the distractions, and they stink of the same fear, hatred, and intolerance I have known in racism and in bigotry.’
“Lewis fought HIV stigma by publicly taking an HIV test. He said, ‘You cannot allow fear or stigma to stand in the way of knowing your status.’
“He also fought for HIV funding, introducing the HIV Epidemic Loan-Repayment Program (HELP) Act in February 2020. He said at the time, ‘We need to support all our brothers and sisters who are living with HIV/AIDS. Their lives are precious, and policy makers must ensure that there are enough qualified, dedicated health professionals to care, support, and guidance for them.’
“We have been deeply grateful to be able to work with Lewis over his many years of service. We offer our deepest condolences to his family. He will be sorely missed”