Calling Florida’s politics “hostile to people living with HIV,” two HIV organizations—the ADAP Advocacy Association (aaa+) and the Community Access National Network (CANN)—have announced a travel boycott of the state.
The joint statement comes on the same day that Republican Florida governor Ron DeSantis filed with the Federal Election Commission to start his campaign for President. Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature has passed legislation, and DeSantis has signed into law a series of bills that include restricting or banning gender-affirming treatment for youth, bathroom use by transgender folk, keeping children away from drag shows, and banning class discussion about sexual orientation and sexual identity (known as “don’t say gay”).
One new Florida law allows doctors to claim moral and religious objections for turning away LGBTQ+ patients.
“We are particularly attuned to the politicization of public health, especially about how that politicization is harmful to people living with HIV and the communities and persons most affected by HIV, Hepatitis C, and substance use disorder,” said Jen Law, CANN president and CEO. “Florida has historically struggled in combating the harms of insufficiently addressed public health crises due to politicization and bias infused public policies. Despite the good work from long-term, committed advocates in the state and at the Florida Department of Health, current political leadership is hell-bent on a mission to destroy progress made in the name of hollow, short-lived ‘victories’ in a manufactured culture war.”
Speaking for aaa+, Brandon M. Macsata said the action, “represents the first time we’ve felt compelled to issue a travel advisory for our community. Under the guise of anti-wokeness, Governor DeSantis has turned the Sunshine State into a breeding ground for hatred against anything gay, with a particular distain for individuals who identify as transgender.”
Macsata added that aaa+ will continue to supportive of advocacy efforts in the state. “To that end, we will always do our best to support the good works of PLWH and our advocates in the state of Florida and elsewhere.,” he said. “This can look like providing work opportunities or assisting with travel to our events outside of Florida. However, we will not be spending dollars which would otherwise benefit corporations physically situated in the state or feeding the tax base of the state. Nor will we be encouraging travel to the state by hosting events there, especially as doing so can and will pose significant risks to health and safety for advocates who represent highly marginalized populations.”
For more information about the travel advisory for people living with HIV, click here.