550+ Advocates Gather For AIDSWatch in D.C. to Meet with Members of Congress as Struggle to End HIV Gains Renewed Focus



April 1, 2019, Washington, D.C. – AIDSWatch, the largest federal HIV advocacy event in the country., will kick off today in Washington, D.C. as the movement to end the epidemic reaches a critical juncture. Presenting sponsor, The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, and organized by AIDS United, with U.S. PLHIV Caucus and Treatment Access Expansion Project, this year’s event will bring more than 550 advocates from 40 states, DC, and Puerto Rico to the nation’s capital to meet with members of Congress to discuss what is needed to end the HIV epidemic within the decade.

Now in its 26th year, AIDSWatch comes as the Trump Administration is seeking support from Congress in the form of funding for its plan to end the epidemic by 2030, announced at the State of the Union. Meeting this goal is possible but will require substantial and sustained investment in the scale-up of evidence-based solutions, policy to eliminate barriers to care and other supportive services, and strong leadership from not just the entire Administration, but from Congress, as well as state, and local governments.

“This year, we’re calling on our elected leaders to once and for all commit to ending the HIV epidemic,” said AIDS United President & CEO Jesse Milan, Jr. “We have the science and tools to turn this dream into a reality, but it must be met by a strong federal commitment and investment in the strategies that will make HIV history in all communities across the United States. AIDSWatch is our moment to seize this historic opportunity and make our voices heard in Congress so that every person has access to the prevention, treatment and care they need and deserve, and we finally make suffering from HIV and AIDS a thing of the past.”

On Monday evening, AIDSWatch will honor three new recipients with Positive Leadership Awards: Marco Castro-Bojorquez, Founder at HIVenas Abiertas, a network of Latinx immigrants living with HIV and member of the U.S. PLHIV Caucus, Dee Dee Chamblee, Executive Director of LaGender, Inc. and Positively Trans National Advisory Board member, and Richard Hutchinson Jr., YMSM Program Specialist at NAESM and co-founder of the He is Valuable Project, a social movement empowering Black Queer Men to mobilize around the HIV epidemic and other social justice/health issues. Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), 13-term Representative for Maryland’s 7th congressional district will also be honored at the reception with the AIDSWatch Congressional Champion Award, as will Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA), Representative for California’s 37th congressional district, who will receive the ETAF Legislative Leadership Award. The event will adjourn after the reception and reconvene Tuesday morning with an advocate rally outside of the U.S. Capitol before meetings with Members of Congress.

“My grandmother fought tirelessly for an AIDS-free world and was committed to providing love, compassion and support to those in need,” said Quinn Tivey, Officer of The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation and Elizabeth Taylor’s grandson.  “We are so proud to carry on her legacy, her voice, and her activism. We are excited to once again be able to support AIDSWatch and all of those who work tirelessly, like her, to fight HIV/AIDS, and to fight stigma and discrimination.”

Organized by AIDS United, the Treatment Access Expansion Project (TAEP), and the US PLHIV Caucus, AIDSWatch attendees this year will include Elizabeth Taylor’s grandchildren and family members; Pennsylvania State Representative Brian Sims; actor, Daniel Franzese; as well as hundreds of advocates coming on their own or as representatives of advocacy and AIDS service organizations from across the United States.

CONTACT:  Kyle Murphy, (202) 876-2820, kmurphy@aidsunited.org


ABOUT AIDSWATCH: AIDSWatch is organized by AIDS United, the Treatment Access Expansion Project, and the US PLHIV Caucus and is the largest federal HIV advocacy event of its kind. Participants are trained in effective advocacy skills and are coached on how best to share this information with policymakers and their community. After training, participants meet with Members of Congress to share their personal stories about the impact of current policies on their community, highlight the importance of HIV as an issue for their constituents and present a face for the issue. Learn more at aidsunited.org/aidswatch.

ABOUT PRESENTING SPONSOR, THE ELIZABETH TAYLOR AIDS FOUNDATION (ETAF):Founded in 1991, The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF) joins Elizabeth’s voice in the fight for social justice and human rights for people living with HIV and AIDS to achieve an AIDS-free world. Inspired by Elizabeth’s personal passion for the cause, in 2019 ETAF is focused on youth, women, children and families, ensuring they receive the direct care and support they need both domestically and in Malawi, the hotspot of the global epidemic.  ETAF’s advocacy and awareness initiatives concentrate on elevating Elizabeth’s voice to secure care for the marginalized and social equity for all. To learn more or to make a donation please visit www.etaf.org.

ABOUT ORGANIZING PARTNER, AIDS UNITED: AIDS United’s mission is to end the HIV epidemic in the U.S. through strategic grant-making, capacity building, and policy. AIDS United works to ensure access to life-saving HIV care and prevention services and to advance sound HIV-related policy for populations and communities most impacted by the U.S. epidemic. To date, our strategic grant-making initiatives have directly funded more than $104 million to local communities and have leveraged more than $117 million in additional investments for programs that include, but are not limited to HIV prevention, access to care, capacity building, harm reduction, and advocacy. Learn more at www.aidsunited.org


ABOUT ORGANIZING PARTNER, THE TREATMENT ACCESS EXPANSION PROJECT (TAEP):TAEP was founded in 1996 with the mission of working to expand access to health care to low-income individuals living with HIV. Since that time, TAEP’s work has expanded to encompass the health care access needs of all low-income individuals living with chronic illnesses and disabilities. In collaboration with national, state and local partners, TAEP seeks to secure, preserve, and promote access to a broad range of care, treatment and essential support services that are necessary to maintain health. To learn more visitwww.taepusa.org.

ABOUT ORGANIZING PARTNER, THE US PLHIV CAUCUS: The US PLHIV Caucus (also known as “the Caucus”) is a group of networks, organizations and advocates dedicated to the Denver Principles and MIPA (Meaningful Involvement of People with HIV/AIDS).  We seek to create a diverse and accountable culture of leadership and engagement at both state and national levels. To learn more visit www.hivcaucus.org/.