The 19th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) is being hosted in the United States for the first time since 1990. The 2010 removal of a travel ban on HIV positive people entering the U.S. set the stage for the return of the world's largest conference on HIV and AIDS-related research and issues. This year, more than thirty thousand participants are expected to flow through conference doors in Washington D.C. Here are highlights from AIDS 2012:
Video: Pres. Obama Welcomes AIDS 2012
In a welcome to an international audience at AIDS 2012, the Obama Administration affirmed its commitment to increased scientific investments in prevention and care for people living with HIV/AIDS. Part of the promise is treating 6 million people by the end of 2013.
"Gay Day" At The International AIDS Conference
Less than 5 percent of the programming for this year's AIDS conference is targeted toward MSMs, says blogger Mark S. King. This is an surprisingly low figure, given American Black MSMs (men who have sex with men) face the highest risk of transmission (more on that below). To counter the imbalance, a special one-day pre-conference was organized to address the specific needs of MSMs. Highlights included newly introduced anti-stigma legislation, a study on Grindr use and the AIDS2012 Reunion poz social event.
Gay and Transgender Voices Missing From AIDS 2012?
Today, the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) released a new publication featuring 100 abstracts on gay men, other men who have sex with men (MSM), and transgender people that were rejected from AIDS 2012. "The research reported in these abstracts is incredibly valuable," said Dr. George Ayala, Executive Director of the MSMGF, on the "Missing Voices" report.
High-Risk Sexual Activity Among Black Teens Drops
New findings show a "dramatic decline" in risky sexual behavior among Black youth since 1991. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the percentage of American high schoolers who had ever had sex declined from 54 percent in 1991 to 47 percent in 2011. "This is especially important because African Americans are so heavily and disproportionately affected by HIV in the U.S.," says Laura Kann, Ph.D.
We Can End AIDS, If...
"In the richest nation on the planet, barely a quarter of the people with HIV are in fully-effective treatment. More than 70 percent are either not in treatment at all or on sub-optimal treatment. That's bad for them and it's bad for everyone else because when they are not on treatment, they are much, much more likely to spread the virus," Black AIDS Institute’s President and CEO Phill Wilson said in the opening plenary of the 2012 International AIDS Conference. Wilson suggested five pillars of action, including affordable health care, a call for HIV positive people to come out, and a retooling of HIV and AIDS organizations.
American Black Gay Men Face World's Highest Risk of HIV
The stunning report "Back of the Line: The State of AIDS Among Black Gay Men in America" has some sobering statistics about the state of HIV among MSMs. In some American cities, Rod 2.0 reports, "one in two Black men who have sex with other men are HIV positive." Black MSM account for 1 in 500 Americans, but represent nearly 1 in 4 new HIV infections. Black MSM are also significantly less likely to be alive three years after being diagnosed with AIDS than are white or Latino MSM.
Anti-Gay Westboro Baptist Protests Outside of AIDS Conference
The notoriously inappropriate and anti-gay congregation, Westboro Baptist Church, protest the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Mount Vernon Square. Their grievances were met with counter-protests and media coverage that some say gave them exactly what they wanted.