Backward and bigoted attitudes toward homosexuality meant few resources were allocated to diagnosing and combatting HIV/AIDS in the U.S. for a long time after its discovery in 1981. An estimated 39 million people worldwide have died from the disease and nearly the same number are estimated to be living with it. Although it is no longer primarily a “gay disease,” the fight for LGBT rights has been deeply intertwined with efforts to combat the pandemic. In 2015 Cuba became the first country in the world to eliminate mother-child transmission of the disease. Cuba is also at the forefront of the battle to defend LGBT rights. Cuba’s national health plan includes complete coverage of gender reassignment operations. Mariela Castro, a member of the National Assembly and leader of the fight for LGBT rights in Cuba, has organized marches along the Havana’s Malecón and an educational freedom caravan across the island, particularly targeting violence against transgender people and is fighting to extend the same legal protections to transgender persons as have been won by gays and lesbians on the island in recent years.
Sources: Mariela Castro’s March: Cuba’s LGBT Revolution; The Normal Heart