Task Force marks World AIDS Day with a call for greater focus on combating HIV

The Task Force marks World AIDS Day, December 1, with a call for greater focus on and re-engagement in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The Task Force’s 26th National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change (January 29 — February 2, 2014) will feature a plenary discussion between some of the leading voices of both the LGBT and HIV/AIDS movements. Creating Change will also have over a dozen HIV/AIDS-related sessions and other programming initiatives over the course of the conference focused on education and advocacy.

“World AIDS Day is an opportunity to reflect on those we have lost to HIV/AIDS over the past thirty years. Today we honor their memories by redoubling our collective advocacy to achieve more accessible treatments and, one day, a cure. By working together we will achieve a HIV/AIDS-free generation. Our resolve to end the epidemic cannot falter,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

“To achieve an AIDS-Free generation we must work together to end the stigma, the complacency, and the ignorance surrounding HIV and AIDS. While we have made great strides in the treatment and prevention, the reality is that new infections for LGBT people are on the rise. Now, more than ever, we must turn our attention to the hardest hit by this epidemic: our gay and bisexual brothers, our transgender sisters, our young people, and communities of color, particularly black and Latino/a men and women,” urged Carey.

The Task Force is proud of its long legacy of community engagement around HIV/AIDS and will highlight the ongoing epidemic and crisis of HIV/AIDS in the LGBT community at its 26th Annual National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change in Houston, Texas, on January 29-February 2, 2014.

Partnering with AIDS United, the Creating Change plenary session on Saturday, February 1 will feature a panel discussion that will address the alarming rates of infection currently found in LGBT communities of color and reinvigorate attendees in the ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS.

The plenary session Why We Can’t Wait: Let’s End AIDS Now will be moderated by Michael Kaplan, president and CEO of AIDS United. Joining Kaplan will be: Phill Wilson, president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, the only national HIV/AIDS think tank focused exclusively on Black people; Cecilia Chung, US People Living with HIV Caucus president, the senior strategist of the Transgender Law Center, and a member of the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS; Charles Stephens, a writer and thought leader who led advocacy training in the Southeast United States through his work with AIDS United; and Elicia Gonzales, executive director for GALAEI: A Queer Latin@ Social Justice Organization in Philadelphia, member of the Leadership Council for the National Latino AIDS Action Network, and a founding member of Raices Latino Pride Philadelphia.

In addition to the Saturday plenary, approximately 14 sessions over the course of the conference will be presented that focus on HIV/AIDS. Onsite HIV testing for low-income and uninsured attendees will be offered; restroom signage will remind attendees of the importance of hand washing in the prevention of opportunistic infections; an HIV etiquette guide will appear in the official conference program and safer sex kits will be included in each attendee’s registration bag as well as throughout the entirety of the conference.