HIV Activists March on Amsterdam During International AIDS Conference

HIV activists march in Amsterdam on July 23 during the 2018 International AIDS Conference
Theodore Tsipiras

What a thrill for me to be among the committed and dynamic people that make up HIV activism around the world! Today was certainly testament to that.

The most thrilling moments at the biannual International AIDS Conference often take place outside the conference hall and in the streets. This year at AIDS 2018 is no exception. On July 23 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, activists streamed through the streets to loudly -- and often quite colorfully -- advocate for an array of issues that, in large part, have been championed directly by communities of people living with HIV.

"U=U," or "undetectable equals untransmittable," is a new and rousing rallying cry for people with HIV that delivers the message that people who are on HIV treatment and have an undetectable viral load are not capable of transmitting the virus to their sexual partners. The U=U campaign was front and center throughout much of the march as it wound its way through the narrow streets and canals of Amsterdam.

Contingents of gay men, women, sex workers, and regional groups from around the globe all appeared united in teaching the world the new science of what it means to be undetectable -- and their passion for the message suggested they are ready to settle the matter once and for all. Science has proven the truth of U=U, and governmental agencies and health officials have joined the campaign. But social stigma against people living with HIV, and a fear of infection that has persisted through decades of the epidemic, have made it difficult for the message to break through to those outside the HIV community and its allies.

These activists are more than capable of speaking for themselves, and in my new video report from AIDS 2018, they do just that.

Coming tomorrow: a sexy trio of interviews that feature an Amsterdam sex club tour, a gay sex worker speaking out about his HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) advocacy, and a young gay man into fetish play who explains how his sexual creativity is his best prevention technique. Oh, and a surprise interview with a superstar!

Be sure to check out all of Mark S. King's videos from AIDS 2018.