It was inspiring to see so many people from all over the globe come together because of their shared goals of finding a cure for AIDS, and working towards an AIDS free generation. We are indeed closer than ever to finding a cure. However, there is still much work to be done in regard to prevention education in order to reduce the number of new infections. It’s imperative that all communities receive access to comprehensive education and information. So long as some communites have less information, due to social inequalities and discrimination, we will continue to see a rise in new infections.
It was troubling to learn that international self identified sex workers and drug users were denied visas by the United States, and hence, excluded from this conference. These communities are hit hard by HIV/AIDS and STIs and they deserve a seat at the table when it comes to finding ways to end HIV and AIDS once and for all.
It’s great that this conference took place in the United States after so many years, and that PLWHA from the international community were able to participate, but because of our restrictive policies regarding who can and cannot enter the country, it’s not surprising that the conference has stayed away for so long. It is imperative to be inclusive when it comes to the fight against AIDS. If the United States really wants to be an active player in the struggle to overcome AIDS, the government cannot be exclusionary. Only when we act together, will we see an end to AIDS.
Written by Ana Orozco