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Jill Biden visits Whitman-Walker Health HIV/AIDS clinic

by Chris Johnson, Washington Blade

First lady Jill Biden visited the Whitman-Walker Health HIV/AIDS Clinic on Friday, January 22. Photo: Courtesy FLOTUS Twitter
First lady Jill Biden visited the Whitman-Walker Health HIV/AIDS Clinic on Friday, January 22. Photo: Courtesy FLOTUS Twitter  

First lady Jill Biden on Friday visited the Washington, D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Health HIV/AIDS clinic, marking a distinct change for a new administration within its first 48 hours after inauguration.

Biden's January 22 visit was intended "to highlight and promote support services for cancer patients and caregivers, as well as hear about the impact of COVID-19 on access to health care, including cancer screenings and prevention efforts," per the guidance.

At the clinic, Biden met with Naseema Shafi, CEO of Whitman Walker Health, and Kim Thiboldeaux, chief executive officer of the Cancer Support Community.

Among the questions Biden asked were how is the clinic getting the word out to patients and how is it addressing mental health issues.

Broadband access also came up as health issue, as health officials said Medicare and Medicaid patients not being able to do televisits. Biden added many teachers "can't reach a lot of their students" and the issue must be addressed nationally.

Biden concluded her public remarks at the clinic by saying President Joe Biden wants to take care of the virus, get everyone vaccinated, then move on to other priorities.

Whitman Walker Health has been serving the D.C.-area since 1973 as a clinic for the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS communities.

Biden wasn't the first person to tour the clinic as first lady. In 1989, Barbara Bush visited the clinic, where she held a baby and hugged a gay man — both were dying of AIDS. Hillary Clinton as first lady and Bernadette Chirac, former first lady of France, have also visited the clinic.

Following the visit to the clinic, Biden made a surprise stop to the U.S. Capitol, where she delivered a basket of cookies to U.S. service members in honor of the National Guard. One appeared to hand her a challenge coin. The service members posed for a group photo, then uttered a "hooah" in salute.

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