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
Retooling to Maximize the Power of Prevention
Thursday's opening plenary breakfast, "Retooling to Maximize the Power of Prevention," was intended to welcome participants to HPLS and "celebrate" the tenth year of HIV planning, but it also revealed a sense of uncertainty, weariness and frustration over both the past and future direction of HIV prevention. "There are so many pink elephants in community planning, I don't know how people fit in," a community co-chair remarked. "I'm a tired, angry, old queen. These are very, very difficult times," an executive director from a national HIV organization related. And with 40,000 new infections each year, the U.S. is "holding steady at far too many infections," one CDC official admitted.
Yet, like Pandora's Box, the session ultimately gave way to hope -- and a shared resolve not to just continue prevention efforts but to improve them. Communities are functioning in a "resource-constrained environment" where they are "asked to do more with less -- forcing difficult choices including the selection of some populations over others," according to one presenter. In addition, the presenters identified several ways to improve prevention without breaking the bank. They included identifying innovative solutions, refusing to let ideology "hover over HIV prevention," and using strategies developed for the community by the community. What's more, they noted that communities should engage in open dialogue about how HIV is transmitted -- even though these conversations aren't always comfortable. "HIV is not for the squeamish," one speaker cautioned. He continued, "[Overcoming the epidemic] will take strong leadership, leadership with chutzpah, leadership that will look at these issues."
A Webcast of this plenary is available at www.kaisernetwork.org/health_cast/hcast_index.cfm?display=detailandhc=1182.
This article was provided by AIDS Action Council. It is a part of the publication AIDS Action Weekly Update.