June 5 marked 35 years since the first documented case of HIV/AIDS, and President Obama released a statement commemorating the anniversary.
The president made special mention of the shame and stigma attached to the disease, especially in its early years, and paid tribute to the many who died due to the lack of attention that it received.
“We’ve learned that stigma and silence don’t just fuel ignorance,” Obama said. “They foster transmission and give life to a plague. We’ve seen that testing, treatment, education, and acceptance can not only save and extend lives, but fight the discrimination that halted progress for too long.”
He praised PrEP as a breakthrough in HIV prevention and celebrated new research funding, declaring that he’s still hoping for an “AIDS-free generation” within this century.
Obama also gave hope to those suffering by reminding them how far we’ve come in fighting the disease.
“Let’s call the names,” he said. “Let’s remember those we lost too soon. And let’s rededicate ourselves to ending this epidemic once and for all.”