Earlier this week I posted concerning delegates from Brotha's & Sista's whom were apart of the CDC's Innovation and Action to End the Epidemic conference in Atlanta, Aug. 23-26. As one who ventures from our fair city to such events, I was thrilled to know that more individuals are getting the opportunity to attend these fountainheads of information, updates, innovative presentations and breakouts in dealing with HIV/ AIDS. As attendees winged their way back to Central City, COP:24/7 was provided with some "ground zero" highlights and observations from Dedri L. Kudos to DL and Kendra for stepping out and bringing back some of the synergy they felt in the ATL. This conference fast track is being presented unedited and represents the opinions of it's composer. Always remember that this forum is an interactive excercise open to the LGBTQ community and beyond. If you've got something to share, an experience or a teachable moment, the floor's all yours...
The 2009 National HIV Prevention Conference was far more than I expected. For those that do not know, this is held annually by the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and thousands of people from around the world come to learn and present their findings. I say this from a point of validation in Brothas & Sistas efforts. Let me not be misunderstood that the amount of new information was nothing less than overwhelming. The opening session was very emotional along with informing. The editor of POZ magazine, Regan Hoffman, told how being a white heterosexual woman living with HIV initially indicated to her friends that she must be a “whore”. Her statement that,”… it only takes one time, with one person…,” compelled me to relate HIV with pregnancy. This was a great lead into the initiative to normalize the disease. I found Magic’s plea to the churches routine but what he said about his own personal involvement was more on point. Magic stated that his healthy looking face connected with HIV made many think that it was okay to get it which of course was the wrong message. I could go on about the opening day but we must get to the new stuff.
The Monday morning 7 a.m. session of interest was “Preparing for the Advent of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).” I was caught completely off guard by this one. A pill has been developed that if taken eliminates your body from being able to accept the HIV virus. THIS IS NOT A VACINE!!!!! It only works for a limited time. The concern was how to make sure it is available to everyone. There will be new policies put in place for access at the institutional and community based level. We hope to be on the forefront of this in Arkansas. I will talk more on that as I learn more.
I would like to interject here the need for researchers here in Little Rock, Arkansas. I will never speak on things that I have no knowledge. I know that my knowledge in this field is limited to my academic level and well…. In statistics….I could have done better. But I do know that there has to be someone out there that does understand preparing for, implementing and presenting research and our plea is that they come on board.
At this point, Kendra and I split up and she goes to “Prevention Needs of Transgender Women” and I go to, “Latebreaker 1 – Interventions for Young MSMs”. My session addressed the age and behaviors of young MSM and semi-addressed the intergenerational gap that many times leaves those unable to attend clubs and other age based settings out of the loop. Also presented was a prevention trial for HIV positive MSMs Online. Let me mention here that every single solitary session I went to, had a “new media/internet” portion or reference. So here is our plea for a webmaster.
Monday’s 1:30- 3:00 pm session for me was “Reaching People Through Social Venues.” This had a presentation about putting HIV educational messages on the screen at your local theatres as opposed to the talking box of popcorn and singing soft drink. This method becomes age and demographically relevant because most movies are made with a general idea of whom is coming to see them. This can take a line item in a budget or a theatre owner who understands the need. At this point our request is for those with such connections (as in funding sources and people who own theatres) to volunteer your efforts in ascertaining these items. There was also a gentleman from Alaska, who stated up front that he had no dealings with Sarah Palin that launched an internet outreach because of the size of Alaska and the distance between populations of MSMs. Let’s not forget the fact that he only has six months to cover the area.
During this same time, Kendra attended, “HIV Prevention in Young Diverse MSMs.” I was a bit jealous because they talked about “The Ball Scene” and how this particular subculture is using their efforts and events to make an impact on HIV transmission. I love the Ball Scene and really wish that more people here were into it.. The Tea Party Boys and Little Rock Black Pride are presently discussing having one in October. My request here is to come see the movie, “Paris Is Burning”, on 9/11/09, discuss it, put your HOUSES together and support the Ball!
The 3:30 – 5pm session for me was, “HIV Prevention.Com.” Just more and more examples of how the internet is being used to help the community in several different ways. There is even something similar to Second Life available but with gay folk. There are online awareness games. There is my second plea for a webmaster. Kendra went to, “What a Tangled Web We Weave: Sexual Networks and HIV Transmission.” This dealt with my personally coined phrase “overlapping socio-sexual networks.” We always think of the “down low” people but what about the women that love gay men in a way that they shouldn’t since he has informed her that he is gay? What about sex clubs? (No I didn’t know it existed until one opened in Tulsa while I was there.) To be continued.....
Again, thanks to DL for this portion of her observations and I look forward to more updates from the shopping bag of literature and handouts that everyone gathers while doing a convention. Stay locked and loaded to this forum for those updates. In the meantime, if you've got webmaster skills or tech skills connect to B & S, they need your assistance TODAY!!!