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A Word from WISE

December, 1999

This past October, over 2,700 people from the Americas gathered in Los Angeles for the 1999 National Conference on Women and HIV/AIDS. In an epidemic that has too often left women invisible, it was extraordinary that nearly 1,000 conference participants were women living with HIV. We dedicate this issue of WISE Words to selected highlights of this important conference.

Participants exchanged information on new research and personal experiences on a broad range of issues. Among the presentations were more findings on biologic differences in the way HIV causes disease and how the immune system resists HIV. Promising data on preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission were also presented. Much discussion occurred about drug side effects and body shape changes.

While the presentations were generally informative, many participants noted communication gaps between women living with HIV/activists and scientists/care providers. Presentations often focused on the growing state of knowledge regarding women and HIV, but often without regard to the practical issues positive women face right now. Although at times these gaps frustrated both sides, they still served as a powerful reminder of the need to forge a common language among us all.

-- Angela Garcia
Program Manager, Project WISE/Women's Treatment Information and Advocacy

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