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Road to AIDS 2012 Town Hall Meetings Kick Off

By Jennie Anderson and Mindy Nichamin

October 13, 2011

U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee speaks to attendees at the Road to AIDS 2012 San Francisco Town Hall meeting on September 30, 2011.

U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee speaks to attendees at the Road to AIDS 2012 San Francisco Town Hall meeting on September 30, 2011.

Last month, the first Road to AIDS 2012 Town Hall meeting kicked off in San Francisco, California. This was the first of 15 meetings to be held across the country leading up to the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) (note: every Road to AIDS 2012 meeting is free and open to the public). AIDS 2012 is the largest gathering of people working in HIV and will take place July 22-27, 2012 in Washington, DC.

This first town hall brought together diverse community members to talk about where we are with the HIV epidemic 30 years in, and where we're going. Panelists (see list below) shared their perspectives on many topics including:

  • The National HIV/AIDS Strategy. July 13, 2011 marked the one-year anniversary of the Strategy and as Andrew Forsyth from the Office of HIV/AIDS Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) told us,"Not only does the Strategy give us a road map, but it also gives us a system of accountability."
  • The Affordable Care Act. This will have large implications for the HIV community. As HHS' Herb Schultz, Director of HHS Region 9, shared, this will potentially "not only increase access to health care and expand health care coverage, it will also provide consumer protection."
  • Advances in biomedical and social interventions. From microbicides to vaccine research to antiretroviral medications, there have been key developments in HIV prevention and treatment in recent years. Marsha Martin from Get Screened Oakland reminded us that, "30 years in, we have the tools, knowledge, and experience".

In addition, community members had several opportunities to ask questions. Some of the many topics raised included:

  • The role of Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)
  • Social determinants of health
  • Discrimination
  • Immigration
  • Sero-sorting (picking one's partner based on HIV status)
  • The AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) and the Ryan White CARE Act
  • Oral health
  • Mental health and substance use (including clean syringe access)
  • HIV among aging populations

Across the panelists' responses, several themes emerged including the need to:

  • Put patients and communities first
  • Enhance collaboration and breaking down of silos
  • Align resources (especially when they are limited) with the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy by looking at the data
  • Strengthen stakeholder engagement
  • Provide a comprehensive and coordinated system of HIV prevention and care
  • Work across cultural lines

Road to AIDS 2012 Panelists at the San Francisco Town Hall Meeting:

Judith D. Auerbach, PhD, Vice President, Research & Evaluation, San Francisco AIDS Foundation

Special Guest
Barbara Lee, U.S. Congresswoman, 9th District, California

Road to AIDS 2012

Interested in participating in one of the upcoming Road to AIDS 2012 Town Hall meetings? Check out if one is coming to a city near you in the next year. You can also get updates online on Twitter by following @RoadtoAIDS2012 or #RTA2012.

Jennie Anderson is an communications advisor. Mindy Nichamin is an new media coordinator.

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See Also
More on U.S. HIV/AIDS Policy

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