In a provocative speech, Housing Works’ Charles King calls it like it is—and calls for increased support for and from the AIDS community.

On December 1, for the occasion of this year’s World AIDS Day, Charles King—president and CEO of Brooklyn-based ASO Housing Works—gave a rousing speech to more than 200 people gathered at the National AIDS Memorial Grove. King called for greater support from government leaders and for unity among those disproportionately affected by the epidemic, namely the LGBT community, women and the African-American community.

“The reality of AIDS is that it is caused by a virus; but that virus would not have created the pandemic that now exists if it were not fueled by homophobia, racism and sexism,” King said, adding, “Whether it was gay men and then Haitians in the ’80s, or sex workers and people addicted to injection drugs today, AIDS has been able to wreak its havoc because it has in the main taken the lives of people deemed expendable. And that is why AIDS continues to be the preeminent civil rights issue of our day, whether we want to own it or not.”

Read King’s entire speech here.