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2012 U.S. Conference on AIDS Highlights From Pre-Conference Summit to End the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in America

October 2, 2012

The Summit to End the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in America took place in Las Vegas two days before the Annual US Conference on AIDS (USCA). The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC), the host of USCA, also organized the summit. Approximately 150 persons attended, including executive directors of community-based organizations (CBOs), senior state and local health department staff, and leaders of community health centers. Dr. Julio Montaner, professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia and director of the British Columbia Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, and Dr. Ron Valdiserri, deputy assistant secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases and director, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy at the US Department of Health and Human Services, both gave opening addresses.

Dr. Montaner asserted that treatment as prevention was the key to an AIDS-free generation. He explained the science behind the concept, using illustrations from British Columbia, where there have been significant reductions in new HIV infections after increased treatment efforts. He also discussed the benefits of earlier HIV-treatment initiation. An important factor was preventing HIV-infected persons from falling through the cracks and making sure that a greater number of persons with HIV/AIDS are linked to treatment and achieve a suppressed viral load. Dr. Montaner acknowledged the important roles of CBOs in the process.

Dr. Valdiserri discussed principles for achieving an AIDS-free generation, illustrating each principle with examples from recent HIV research. He also highlighted various approaches for CBOs and other partners to examine as they work to assess and possibly revamp their roles in the fight to end HIV/AIDS in the United States.

The summit featured the release of the Declaration to End HIV/AIDS in America. NMAC convened a blue-ribbon panel with representatives from more than 100 community-based, public, and private organizations; governmental leaders; and people with HIV/AIDS. The declaration discusses how to translate policy and science into ending HIV/AIDS. Dr. Benny Primm, a founder and Chair Emeritus of NMAC, invited participants to sign the declaration as a way of rededicating themselves to ending HIV/AIDS in America. The summit continued with presentations on the following key topics: HIV testing and diagnosis; linkage and access to care; retention in care; and treatment. Leaders of HIV programs also held small group discussions on the presentations, their own experiences and concerns, and how their organizations will move forward to better serve their communities and help end HIV/AIDS in America.

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