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HIV Prevention Activists Urge U.S. Officials to Seize the Moment

By Julie "JD" Davids

June 12, 2014

Jim Eigo of ACT UP New York speaks to the press about the Atlanta Principles, flanked by Mathew Rodriguez (ACT UP, TheBody.com) and Cheryl Courtney-Evans (Transgender Individuals Living Their Truth [TILTT]). (Credit: Cathy Metzger)

Jim Eigo of ACT UP New York speaks to the press about the Atlanta Principles, flanked by Mathew Rodriguez (ACT UP, TheBody.com) and Cheryl Courtney-Evans (Transgender Individuals Living Their Truth [TILTT]). (Credit: Cathy Metzger)

An alliance of prominent HIV activist groups released a public statement this week urging the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to "change the way it conducts HIV prevention." The six-page, recommendation-laden paper was presented to top CDC officials on the opening day of the 2014 STD Prevention Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

ACT UP New York, the primary organization behind the statement, titled it "The Atlanta Principles" in honor of the 1983 Denver Principles that launched the empowerment movement of people living with HIV. The name also references the city in which 12% of young black gay men become HIV positive every year, according to the Emory School of Public Health. Atlanta is also the location of the CDC's headquarters.

Jim Eigo, a representative of ACT UP New York who participated in the meeting with CDC officials, said that the CDC welcomed the input. However, he expressed concern that there is "not the urgency we want to see" on the part of health officials in the U.S. "Unless there is an enormous, concentrated effort and cooperation of healthcare bureaucracy in this country, we are not going to get there. It's like the bureaucracy is quite content to manage the epidemic we've got. We can't have curators of an epidemic. It's not acceptable. This epidemic has to end," he said.

"We've got this moment here -- ACA, expanded Medicaid," Eigo continued. "We understand treatment more than we did, that treatment for people with HIV is so much better for them and for the community. We have PEP, we have PrEP. But we don't have the political will."

The Atlanta Principles note that the participation of communities in HIV prevention research has paid off with data confirming the multi-faceted role of HIV treatment in prevention. But without rapid and large-scale translation of the research into programs and policies, it warns, communities will not be relieved of the "massive burden of disease into the forseeable future."

"It's clearer to me than ever that it's going to take an earthquake to move on this," Eigo said. "The lift is tremendous."

Excerpts of the recommendations contained within the Atlanta Principles:


Sexually Frank HIV Prevention Messaging

At the Atlanta Principles press conference, ACT UP New York's James Krellenstein and Adolph Arromand of National AIDS and Education Services for Minorities (NAESM) consider the testimony of longtime Atlanta activist living with HIV, Craig Washington of AID Atlanta. (Credit: Cathy Metzger)

At the Atlanta Principles press conference, ACT UP New York's James Krellenstein and Adolph Arromand of National AIDS and Education Services for Minorities (NAESM) consider the testimony of longtime Atlanta activist living with HIV, Craig Washington of AID Atlanta. (Credit: Cathy Metzger)


Treatment as Prevention (TasP)


Pharmaceutical Prophylaxes: PrEP and PEP


Funding HIV Prevention: Targeting Populations at Highest Risk, Funding New Prevention Efforts and Older Ones, Funding That Rewards Success

Ms. Courtney-Evans, Executive Director of TILTT in Atlanta, speaks at the Atlanta Principles press conference. (Credit: Cathy Metzger)

Ms. Courtney-Evans, Executive Director of TILTT in Atlanta, speaks at the Atlanta Principles press conference. (Credit: Cathy Metzger)


HIV Testing and Identifying Acute HIV Infection (Seroconversion Illness)


Need for More Sensitive HIV Epidemiology

Dazon Dixon Diallo, M.P.H., Founder and President of SisterLove, Inc. in Atlanta and South Africa, at the Atlanta Principles press conference. (Credit: Cathy Metzger)

Dazon Dixon Diallo, M.P.H., Founder and President of SisterLove, Inc. in Atlanta and South Africa, at the Atlanta Principles press conference. (Credit: Cathy Metzger)


Reforming National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS)


CDC and Sex Education


The Lives of People With HIV Inform Clinical Practice


CDC's Ongoing Partnership With HIV-Affected Communities

Julie "JD" Davids is the managing editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.

Follow JD on Twitter: @JDAtTheBody.


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