For her decades of accomplishments as an AIDS advocate, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi received the first-ever Bay Area Global Health Alliance Leadership Award from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

Pelosi was honored with the award during an October 30 ceremony hosted by the UCSF Institute for Global Health Sciences in collaboration with the Bay Area Global Health Alliance, the Public Health Institute, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, according to a UCSF news report.

Pelosi (D–San Francisco) has been influential not only in raising awareness for HIV causes but also in setting up and funding many of the federal programs that support people living with HIV.

When she gave her first speech in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1987, only a few years into the AIDS epidemic, she urged the nation to fight the crisis. 

“My first words on the floor of the House were about HIV/AIDS,” she recalled at the event. “And people said, ‘Oh my gosh, why did you say that?’ I said, ‘I came to Congress to fight HIV/AIDS.’” At that time, San Francisco was an epicenter of the crisis.

While in Congress, Pelosi has been influential in creating the Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS program, in reauthorizing and expanding the Ryan White CARE Act (the largest federal program serving people affected by HIV), and in supporting the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR, the global HIV program launched by President George W. Bush in 2003).   

Speaking to Pelosi, UCSF’s chancellor, Sam Hawgood, said, “Your tenacious support for HIV programs has improved the lives of millions of people living with HIV in the U.S. and worldwide.”

Pelosi has also been a tireless supporter of the National AIDS Memorial Grove at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. At a ceremony this summer in the Grove, she was honored for her history of service in Congress. In addition to the Grove, the National AIDS Memorial is also home of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and other HIV-related programs.

In related news, House Republicans are threatening to cut funding to PEPFAR. For more details, see the October 27 letter from the George W. Bush Institute and global AIDS leaders urging Congress to reauthorize PEPFAR.