HRC Blog

The Road to AIDS 2012: Making a Difference in ‘My’ Community

tiffany chesterThe following post comes from Tiffany Chester, Head of the Local Secretariat for AIDS 2012:

Today’s the day. Almost two years ago I started on the road to AIDS 2012 as head of the local secretariat, acting as a key liaison to the general conference secretariat in Geneva.

Our team, which grew from two to 25, represents every aspect of the conference from fundraising and development to program support and logistics. We have a two-person media team that handles all media and press in the US. There will be about 20,000 registered delegates, which includes roughly 1,500 journalists from over 150 countries. We work very closely with the Geneva staff. They hold the blueprint, we execute their plans, and by July 27th we will all collapse in one big group hug of effervescent happiness at a collaborative job well done.

This is the largest gathering of people working in the field of HIV and AIDS. There will be leading scientists from around the globe presenting research and latest data, community organizations and activists sharing best practices, and policy makers from every corner of the world all coming together to discuss, learn and work towards ending the epidemic.

Thirty years ago, this epidemic was brought to the world’s attention, and today many of the same struggles still exist. When people ask me what I want to see from the conference, I always respond that I want to learn how to make a difference in “my” community. I am a college educated, 41-year-old African-American woman, recently married and living in DC. I am the face of the epidemic. “My” community looks like me, and most of my friends are not talking about HIV because we are not categorized as “high risk.” Newsflash: anytime you have unprotected sex, you are “high risk.” I want “my” community to start talking again, I want “my” community to be tested, and I want “my” community to erase the stigma.

July 22-27, 2012. The road to AIDS 2012 ends in DC at the Walter E Washington Convention Center. I will have a cell phone in hand at all times, probably two, and I will hope that this conference is wildly successful. And on July 28, I hope that a difference has been made in my local community and in my country because it certainly has made a difference in my life.

Learn more about HRC's involvement in the 19th International AIDS Conference at

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