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AIDS Action Weekly Update Special Edition

Report From the HIV Prevention Leadership Summit
Atlanta, Georgia, June 16-19, 2004

June 25, 2004

The Plenary Experience

Mobilizing HIV and STD Prevention Activities for Gay Men


Once narrowly considered a "gay epidemic," HIV is affecting an increasingly large and diverse population within the United States. Yet, despite the epidemic's continuing shift from the "similar and few" to the many and varied, men who have sex with men (MSM) remains a CDC population category with a very high number of AIDS cases, accounting for 40% of reported AIDS cases in 2001. Moreover, while the number of HIV cases for this category had been steadily decreasing for years, it recently began to rise, increasing by 17% between 1999 and 2002 in the thirty states with HIV reporting. According to Dr. Ronald Valdisseri of the CDC, the rise most likely represents an overall increase in HIV infections for men who have sex with men. This perhaps is why HPLS organizers chose to close the summit with a plenary dedicated to HIV and STD prevention for gay men.

Serving as moderator, Dr. Valdisseri called the HIV epidemic within the population of men who have sex with men "a complicated topic." The latest outbreak of HIV is probably the result of a combination of factors, including "treatment optimism" and drug use, particularly the use of crystal methamphetamine, he stated. Consequently, Dr. Valdisseri explained, "Addressing HIV requires an integrated approach."

The program that followed Dr. Valdisseri's opening remarks included presentations by five men from diverse ethnicities, backgrounds and regions. Collectively, they covered many of the dominant points that had run through the summit: For instance, thirty years into the epidemic, stigma still exists -- and for some populations, this stigma intersects in devastating ways with prejudice related to immigration, and socio-economic status. In the third decade of the U.S. epidemic, communities are still finding it difficult to talk comprehensively about sex and effective prevention in an open, honest and inclusive way. In the third decade, there is competition for the meager resources committed to domestic HIV prevention efforts. In the third decade, some communities are all but forgotten in planning for HIV prevention, care and treatment.

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But also in the third decade of the epidemic, thousands of people assembled at HPLS to confront these issues head on; to listen carefully, think critically, speak out confidently and respond compassionately so, as one community member put it, there may not have to be another HIV prevention summit/conference in the next decade.

A Webcast of this plenary is available at www.kaisernetwork.org/health_cast/hcast_index.cfm?display=detailandhc=1182.


Back to the AIDS Action Weekly Update June 25, 2004 contents page.




  
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This article was provided by AIDS Action Council. It is a part of the publication AIDS Action Weekly Update.
 

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