HIV Community Spotlight
A Summit for Straights
Heterosexuals with HIV/AIDS who are seeking support find it easy to feel excluded. Many services offered to people with AIDS are geared toward the gay population, and few are targeted toward heterosexuals.
The Pos Hetero Summit, to be held from June 8 through June 11 in San Diego, is an excellent opportunity for heterosexuals to get involved and socialize with other HIV-positive heterosexual people. The summit is also a chance to get educated about HIV in a comfortable environment, and learn how to find services and support in the heterosexual community.
Nationwide NetworkThe Pos Hetero Summit is being organized by Heterochat, a national non-profit organization targeting HIV-positive heterosexuals.
Adam K., director of Heterochat, says a chance to socialize with other positive people is the biggest attraction for most people to come to the summit. But there will be much more than just the fun social events like the trip to Sea World and the San Diego Zoo.
"We've done enough of just socializing," said Adam. "It's time for the heterosexual community to become educated, aware, and active."
Customize ServicesAdam's goal for the conference is to help heterosexuals see that the support and services they want can be created if they don't exist.
In addition, existing programs can also be expanded to fit the needs of the heterosexual community. But the key to making these changes happen is involvement of the heterosexual community and peer education.
"I see people sitting around whining that there are no support groups or services for heterosexuals with AIDS," said Adam. "The gay community didn't sit around and wait for these services to come to them. The gay community got these services built. Since they have provided us with great models on how to do things it won't be hard to get them started, but people must be willing to stand up for themselves."
Targeted SessionsThe four-day conference will be broken down into roughly 20 sessions, each one targeting a specific culture. One-fifth of the conference will be presented in Spanish.
People of all ethnic backgrounds are expected to attend not only from all over the United States, but South America, Australia and Mexico. "Heterosexual people are not properly represented in the public view of AIDS," said Adam. "Community-based organizations need to change with the direction AIDS is moving in. But in order to get services, every kind of person that is affected by AIDS needs to be represented."
Some of the topics to be covered are "Minority Majority -- getting your voice heard"; "Activism 101"; "Treatments on the Frontier"; and "Disclosure/When is a Good Time."
"If we send just 10 percent of the people who attend the conference back to their cities as good activists we will have accomplished our goals," said Adam.
One-fifth in SpanishThe summit will be held at the Mission Valley Quality Resort, which has been reserved exclusively for the conference. The conference is free and rooms at the resort are available at $84 per night for a single and $94 for a double or more. The cost includes two meals per day.
Heterochat is also helping people to find roommates to reduce the cost. For assistance, visit heterochat.org. Free child care will also be provided.
The summit is expected to draw up to 800 people. Early registration is recommended.
This article has been reprinted at The Body with the permission of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA).
This article was provided by AIDS Project Los Angeles. It is a part of the publication Positive Living.