HRC Blog

Creating Change Conference Hosts Groundbreaking Summit on HIV/AIDS

As Director of HRC's new Health & Aging Program, I had the pleasure of joining Macarthur Flournoy, Deputy Director of HRC's Religion & Faith Program, at a groundbreaking meeting held on the first day of the Creating Change conference in Atlanta yesterday: Summit 31-31 To End HIV/AIDS in America. At the meeting, dozens of national, state and local LGBT organizations joined with HIV/AIDS groups to discuss how we can powerfully collaborate to "revisit the dream" of the first generation affected by HIV/AIDS 31 years ago: "To end the AIDS epidemic."

The meeting touched on a variety of key issues, including whether HIV has been mainstreamed or "de-gayed" in unhelpful ways and how this phenomenon can be addressed.

Gill Foundation President and CEO Tim Sweeney noted, "The broader LGBT movement learned from the HIV/AIDS movement how to do [powerful advocacy] work. Now the larger movement has grown [with successes around DADT, marriage equality and more]. We've come full circle. All LGBT issues are HIV issues."

Speaker Jennifer Kates of the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) summarized the results of focus groups conducted in 2012 with self-identified gay and bisexual men by KFF and the Black AIDS Institute. In discussing which LGBT issues they considered "predominant," Black focus group members were likelier to name HIV/AIDS, while other men named "equality" and "gay marriage." Black men were also likelier to say that HIV/AIDS stigma persists, she noted.

Download the complete findings here.

Speakers Cecilia Chung, a San Francisco Health Commissioner, and Masen Davis of the Transgender Law Center reviewed for the group the HIV-related concerns of transgender people, including the very high rates of HIV among transgender women.

Executive Director Paul Kawata of the National Minority AIDS Council, one of the summit's lead convenors, proposed goals and responsibilities for LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations, including roles for LGBT centers, HIV/AIDS organizations, state equality groups, national LGBT organizations, and more. In lively discussion, groups present pledged to take on a variety of tasks, together and separately, and to continue the summit dialogue.

HRC's new Health & Aging Program, for our part, will be showcasing HIV/AIDS information and resources, as well as supporting HRC's ongoing work related to HIV/AIDS. Recent highlights of that work include advocacy in these critical areas:

  • Increased funding for HIV/AIDS programs
  • Key provisions in health care reform
  • Reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act
  • Emergency funding for ADAP (AIDS Drug Assistance Program)
  • Increased support for comprehensive, evidence-based sex and HIV education
  • Lifting of the FDA ban on MSM blood donations
  • National AIDS Strategy development, implementaion and funding
  • Removal of the ban on federal funding for syringe exchange programs
  • Lifting of the HIV travel ban
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