Daniel Driffin, HIV/AIDS activist, speaks at DNC

Daniel Driffin spoke Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention. He lives with HIV. Photo by Sara Ritsch.

by Morgan Allen
Journalism Intern

Daniel Driffin of Atlanta, GA lives with HIV. At thirty years of age, he has dedicated his life to helping raise awareness and advocate for people of color living with HIV/AIDS. He spoke Wednesday afternoon at the Democratic National Convention.

This is the first time in 16 years that the DNC has had an openly HIV-positive speaker address the people. 

Driffin opened his speech by acknowledging his HIV, and noting that over one million Americans are still living with it today. He outlined the history of the epidemic and the deafening silence from lawmakers and leaders. 

"The community spoke out so that policymakers would take notice" he said. "And while some ignored their voices, Hillary Clinton listened."

In Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State, she helped ensure that 6.7 million people around the world had access to HIV therapy. She also helped lift a travel ban that prevented people with HIV/AIDS from visiting the United States.

"As a result of her work and the work of so many others, many who are here tonight, the number of new HIV diagnoses are on the decline in the United States by nearly 20 percent over the last decade." Driffin said.

The number of new HIV diagnoses are only at 100. Doctors now know how to treat, diagnose and suppress the virus. 

Still, Driffin said, there is much to be done. Specific communities are much more at risk than others.
"One in two black gay men will be diagnosed in their lifetime if the current rates continue." he said
"And if we had enough data, I'm sure black transgender women are more at risk, too."

There is a significant lack of data surrounding transgender individuals and HIV/AIDS. 

Driffin told the crowd what they could do today to ensure a better tomorrow.
"We invest in research and education. We expand treatment and prevention. And we elect Hillary Clinton. With Hillary Clinton as our president, I believe that we can meet our goal of an AIDS-free generation," he said.
“Go get tested and then go vote.”


Additional Reporting by Sara Ritsch.

Copyright The Gayly – July 27, 2016 @ 5:00 p.m.