International AIDS Conference in the U.S. for the First Time in 20 years
In 2010, President Obama lifted the restriction on people living with HIV from entering the United States. Making it possible for the International AIDS Conference to be held here for the first time in 20 years. The conference theme is Turning the Tide Together and more than 20,000 delegates from nearly 200 countries are expected to attend. As you can imagine, it’s an important time to focus in on the good news, address the bad news and meet face to face with worldwide advocates working to end AIDS. The conference is a time for scientists, government officials, policy makers, human rights advocates, grassroots leaders and those living with HIV to convene, learn and discuss recent developments and plans going forward.
We have had some good news over the years. In sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people newly infected fell from 2.2 million in 2001 to 1.8 million in 2009. Still, the advances made in other countries have not been implemented in sub-Saharan Africa where 34% of all people living with HIV reside. As Peter Laugharn, Firelight’s Executive Director said last year, "There are as many HIV infections of newborn children in Africa in forty minutes as there are in a whole year in Europe. This is not acceptable, especially when we have the medicine, the financial resources, and the political will to eliminate HIV transmission at birth in Africa just as we have ended it in Europe and here in the United States."
It’s this type of discussion that will occur at the International AIDS Conference. Firelight Foundation will be there and we’re bringing some of our grantee partners also, as we do each year of the conference. We’re pleased that the U.S. has ended its misguided policy to discriminate against people living with HIV, demonstrating some of the steps forward in ending the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS.
You’ll be hearing more about the conference as it approaches. We’re committed to bringing you the grassroots perspective on the conference, the ideas discussed and the sidebar conversations you might miss if you can’t make it. You can expect updates leading up to the conference in July and interviews, live tweets and Facebook posts while we’re there. But don’t let all the information come from us! We’re hoping to hear from you too, what do you want to know? What do you want the world to know? Will you be at the conference?