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HIV Prevention Conference Highlights Advances

For the first time in four years, thousands of HIV prevention program staffers from throughout the United States joined advocates, government officials, and people living with and affected by HIV for the 2015 U.S. National HIV Prevention Conference (NHPC). Hundreds of panels focused on delivery of best practices, outreach to specific vulnerable populations such as youth, and other major aspects of prevention. The conference emphasized major advances in HIV prevention including treatment as prevention (TasP), pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and high impact prevention. A major theme that emerged is the essential merger of HIV treatment and prevention, not only in terms of TasP but also in terms of other issues such as mental health, substance abuse, co-occurring disorders, and poverty. Speakers regularly acknowledged the changes to prevention services but also called on the community members to overcome barriers and disparities that challenge access to treatment services for those at high risk. Notably Dr. Mindy Fullilove related gentrification and income inequality to poor prevention results and called for an end to such disparities.

In response to the high costs of the conference and concerns about exclusion of people directly affected by HIV, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and other allies hosted a counter conference, “The People's Mobilization on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) Counter Conference at the National HIV Prevention Conference (NHPC).” The counter conference provided space for transgender and sex worker advocates to discuss issues that were not highlighted at the NHPC. Advocates for decriminalization and a stronger public health approach to sex work presented a letter to people attending the plenary criticizing the NHAS and calling for greater involvement of people living with HIV and affected populations such as sex workers in the plan.

Counter Conference session "Red Umbrellas and Red Ribbons – Movement Solidarity and Supporting Sex Worker Rights" panelists included Deon Haywood, Magalie Lerman, Cassie Warren, and Stella Zine.

The NHPC closing ceremonies featured Dr. Thomas Frieden, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who noted rising risks particularly related to opioid addiction and called for a public health approach including making syringe exchange available, enhancing effective surveillance and partner notification, engaging communities in post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and PrEP, and focusing on primary prevention including condoms.

Drs. Thomas Frieden, Eugene McCray, and Ronald Valdiserri

The conference was closed by Dr. Ron Valdiserri, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health and Infectious Diseases who is retiring after nearly 30 years of service. Dr. Valdiserri reminded participants of how far we have come since the beginning of the epidemic. Dr. Valdiserri told conference goers that AIDS thrives on inequalities and it takes advantage of ignorance and intolerance to prey heavily on those who are least able to fight the epidemic and charged attendees to fight back against the inequalities, ignorance, and intolerance that allows HIV to survive. AIDS United wishes Dr. Valdiserri well in his retirement.

Quote by Dr. Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director, CDC and ATSDR

Highlights from the conference can be found at, additionally you may follow the conference sequentially here: Day 1 Recap, Day 2 Recap and Day 3 Recap. For any questions please reach out to Director of Health Policy, William McColl at [email protected]

Posted By: AIDS United Policy Department - Friday, December 11, 2015

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