When I started writing this blog, I was hoping it would be something to inspire other people living with HIV like me to get involved and be activist, speak up, become visible. I wanted to make the point that all of us can be advocates. There is so much to say about this enormous AIDS conference, but I do not want to just list sessions and people I met. I want to share the things that continue inspiring me after over 11 years of working to promote the rights of people living with HIV.
Obviously the opening plenary had to be strong, Hillary Clinton was scheduled to speak, and she did a really good job: speaking out not only for women’s rights but also for the rights of people who use drugs and people who do sex work. I never thought the day would come when I saw a US Secretary of State saying such progressive things. She also made some impressive pledges such as continuing funding the Global Fund and 15 billion dollars to study most effective intervention for key population and 2 billion dollars s to boost Civil Society efforts to reach and support key populations.
The star of the day for me however was Phill Wilson, CEO of Black AIDS Institute, United States. He reminded us of how much work there is still to do and how tough the epidemic is in America. I was shocked to learn that a few blocks from the conference, in Washington DC, there is an HIV prevalence of up to 3.1%, that is like a high prevalence countr.
Phill Wilson spoke as an openly our black gay men, which I thought was awesome.
His public speaking style was really powerful and had a clear call for:
- Implement Affordable Health Care act
- HIV positive people come out
- Treatment on demands
- Integrate biomedical and behavioral intervention
- AIDS organization must retool
I was extremely impressed when he called for positive people who can to come out, he acknowledged that many people don’t because it would be dangerous for them, but it also reminded us that when we come out we not only liberate ourselves, but we help others to stop fearing HIV and encourage people to test and access health services.
The plenary can be view on a webcast here.
I am so sorry I am so behind with reporting on the conference but so much is going on will try writing more later!