2024 Agenda

Sunday, March 17 / Domingo, marzo 17

2:30 p.m.-6:00 p.m. — Registration Check-in

4:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m. —Institute: MHS

                                           Institute: HIV & Aging Feedback Update

5:30 p.m.-6:00 p.m. New Advocate Connect

6 p.m.-8 p.m. — USPLHIVC-led AIDSWatch Welcome/Reception 

Monday, March 18/ Lunes, marzo 18

7:30 a.m. — Breakfast starts

7:45 a.m.-8:45 a.m. — Café Con Pan

Join us for the Café Con Pan session at AIDSWatch ‘24, where we prioritize building a vibrant community and fostering meaningful connections. Conducted in Spanish, with English translation available, our focus is on creating a space of rest and wellness within our collaborative environment. Engage in conversations with leading community members, participate in the creation of a symbolic altar using materials designed by Carlos Diaz, an award-winning Puerto Rican artist, and unwind with a cafe con pan with fellow advocates. We’ve created a blog article with interviews, and a teaser for AIDSWatch, with a special spotlight on the importance of inclusivity and language justice.

 9:00 a.m. – 12:10 p.m. — General Session and “A Fireside Chat with Leaders for Health Equity: Forging Forward in Challenging Times.”  Facilitated by Dr. Eugene McCray

12:10 p.m.-12:50 p.m. — Lunch

12:50 p.m.-1:05 p.m. — State Coordinator & Advocates Connect

1:15 p.m.-4:35 p.m. — Workshops

1:15-2:15 p.m.

Attacks on trans and queer youth at the state, local, and school board levels are endangering LGBTQ+ young people. But young people are fighting back! Led by youth activists and Advocates for Youth staff, this institute is designed to support young people ages 13-24, with all levels of organizing experiences to learn about policies, gain organizing tools, and build a network of young LGBTQ+ activists. We’re ready to ACT OUT! for equality, justice, and safety!

Behavioral and social determinants directly affect health goals and outcomes, impacting an individual’s risk of acquiring HIV. This panel looks to address how structural interventions exist at the nexus of HIV and criminalization— touching on policing, surveillance, and marginalization in ways often ignored. Marginalized communities—Black/brown people, sex workers, LGBTQIA+ community, PWID, and those currently or formerly incarcerated— are disproportionately impacted by HIV criminalization and the structural inequities that perpetuate the transmission of HIV. Any plan to “end the HIV epidemic” must be committed to a structural approach that addresses the social determinants of HIV transmission and prevention, incorporating an integrated response that addresses these intersecting factors.

Healthcare access is critical to ending the HIV epidemic. Syringe exchange programs must be implemented to stem the spikes in the transmission and incidence of HIV created by the opioid crisis. Comprehensive sexual health education would allow for a deeper understanding of HIV transmission risks. Decriminalizing sex work protects sex workers from violence and allows sexual autonomy. Therefore, HIV criminalization reform efforts should focus on a coordinated response which seeks not simply to end HIV criminalization but end the way that criminalizing drug use, sex work, etc contributes to the transmission of HIV.

A session that educates participants about HIV and the criminalization of people living with HIV occurring domestically and globally. Knowledge of this issue, coupled with other stigmatizing intersectionality’s, is what participants need in creating and building advocacy programs/networks to make changes towards the modernization or repeal of HIV-specific laws.

Sex education is often synonymous with HIV/AIDS prevention in United States policy at both the federal and state level with many states not enacting sex education policy until the dawn of the HIV epidemic. The majority of Americans, experts in the fields of medicine, public health and education all agree that sex education is an important and necessary component of education. And yet, sex education, and intersecting issues of LGBTQ+ rights and other information access issues in public education, are under attack today more than ever before. Advocating for sex education in our current political climate means advocating for an upstream solution not only for the battle against HIV/AIDs – but also as a critical tool in the culture war that seeks to further marginalize already vulnerable populations.

This panel will explore the ways in which health justice for immigrants is integral to ending the HIV epidemic. We will discuss best practices in reaching immigrant communities, how to partner with immigrant communities to increase HIV awareness, and the importance of ensuring the community has access to welcoming and culturally appropriate care. We will also discuss the current political and social environment as it relates to increased numbers of migrants coming to the U.S., and how organizations committed to ending HIV may want to respond.

2:25-3:25 p.m.

This interactive and discussion led workshop is intended to provide a fresh perspective on health education, specifically HIV prevention, by centering pleasure in conjunction with relevant medical interventions. We will explore how health disparities affect Black women’s experiences and the connection to testing and treatment. The goal is to help Black women develop and strengthen a positive sexual identity, assist Black women living with HIV take charge of their sexual health and regiment adherence, and challenge providers to include a pleasure focused approach when talking with patients about their sexual health.

The presentation will begin by showcasing the education provided on MIPA, describe the TA provided to assist sites creating or enhancing their CABs and the execution of the BWF Leadership Development program – a program that involved increasing participants’ personal advocacy skills, leadership, and HIV knowledge. We will conclude with a discussion of the lessons learned and policy implications in prioritizing MIPA, CABs, leadership development and continued investment in Black women.

From the annual appropriations process to policies about insurance coverage for HIV prevention, screening, and treatment, what Congress does can either help to end the HIV epidemic or perpetuate it. With so much at stake in an election year, HIV advocates need to know what Congress is working on and how to weigh in. But it can be hard to know what to say about complex issues in a politically charged environment. In this workshop, attendees will participate in an in-depth examination of the federal budget process, its key players, and the political challenges to funding to end the HIV epidemic and related syndemic. We will also discuss the HELP Copays Act and opportunities to promote legislation to advance PrEP equity and to end the Hepatitis C epidemic. Advocates will be equipped with tools to effectively communicate their advocacy message and help Members of Congress understand how their decisions affect our communities and our ability to end the epidemics.

The workshop is a collaboration between Positive Women’s Network USA and HIPS. Part 1 of the workshop begins with a grounding in the intersecting criminalization of sex work, drug use, and HIV. The grounding will emphasize how the voices of sex workers have been decentered in recent harm reduction conversations and how, historically, this was not always the case. Facilitators will foreground that the workshop is a space for critique, specifically highlighting how conference and event organizers frequently exploit people with lived experience for their stories.

The workshop will then transition into a panel discussion of sex workers with lived experience on the criminalization of drug use and HIV. Rather than put an emphasis on storytelling, the panel will largely focus on critiquing organizations who tokenize people with lived experiences. Advocates will share their thoughts on how organizations can bring people with lived experiences into compensated roles, where they can drive change, and how necessary this is to do meaningful work. At the end of the panel, the audience will be invited to share their organization’s paid opportunities or other efforts to bring people with lived experience into organizing roles within their work.

This workshop, “Empowering Trans Health and Safety in the Southern US: A Comprehensive Workshop,” aims to address the unique health and safety challenges faced by transgender individuals in the Southern United States. The workshop will explore key topics including understanding the syndemic approach to public health, culturally competent care and safety measures, advocacy and policy changes, building supportive networks, and empowering individuals to advocate for their own health and safety.

In 2019 the NMAC created a National HIV & Aging Advocacy Network (NHAAN) out of the previous year’s 50+ Scholars program. Through their efforts to be inclusive of all LTS, they developed the Lifetime Survivors (LS) Special Interest Group (SIG). The focus of our SIG is to highlight the needs of some LTS who are under the age of 50, who have been living with HIV their entire lives. The goal is to advocate for healthcare policy changes and make sure we are included in the development, decision making, delivery, and evaluation of the National Ending the HIV Epidemic Plan. While there are over 10,000 LS over the age of 13 in the United States, this population has long been overlooked and their unique needs have been minimized.

This interactive workshop will feature a panel of LS who will provide a brief overview of this population’s lived experiences and their unique needs. Many of the issues that LTS raise about aging with HIV impact LS at younger ages due to factors such as being treated experienced, longevity with HIV, and inflammation. This workshop will highlight policy agenda issues that affect LS and may overlap with other movement agendas, including people aging with HIV among others.

Gilead Sciences’ FOCUS program enables healthcare and community-based organizations to develop and implement best practices for policy-driven routine HIV, HBV, and HCV screening and linkage to care, and linkage to comprehensive prevention services in accordance with public health guidelines. FOCUS funding supports HIV, HCV, and HBV routine screening and linkage to the first medical appointment after diagnosis. 

This workshop will demonstrate how innovative public-private partnerships implement a syndemic approach to better address the HIV, HCV, and HBV epidemics and impact health equity outcomes in communities disproportionately impacted by high rates of morbidity, mortality, and late diagnosis of blood-borne viruses. We will provide examples of how health departments and policy makers have aligned their own programs to better address BBV epidemics in their communities, scale routine screening and linkage to care programs, and sustain the impact of the FOCUS model.

3:35-4:35 p.m.

Explore the challenges of navigating conservative legislatures in red states, using Tennessee as a case study. This workshop delves into the escalating shift towards conservatism, creating a formidable barrier to progressive policy initiatives. Organizations have witnessed an intensified mistrust of the federal and state governments, hindering advancements in Public Health. As advocates champion progressive policies, a critical battleground emerges concerning issues intertwined with the LGBTQAI+ community, with HIV policy at its core. Far-right legislators perceive HIV policy through a lens that associates it with marginalized communities. A case in point is the state of Tennessee, where, in 2023, the legislature rebuffed federal CDC funding for HIV prevention and surveillance programs, opting instead for less stable state funding channels. Tennessee advocates achieved a victory by successfully steering a bill through the legislative process. This resulted in a pivotal change to the HIV criminal exposure law, eliminating the mandate for those convicted to register on the state’s sex offender registry.

The workshop will examine these attitudinal shifts and the astute strategies employed by advocates to influence lawmakers resistant to progressive policy changes. Gain unparalleled insights into navigating this complex terrain and forging pathways towards ending the HIV epidemic in the United States.

Syringe service programs, naloxone, fentanyl test strips, and overdose prevention centers – examples of harm reduction tools which showcase how advocates have been and continue to be ahead of the curve on responses to the national overdose crisis. As harm reduction continues to mainstream, advocates are tasked with bringing their expertise to members of Congress with wide reaching priorities and perspectives. Harm reduction has been a key priority for the current Biden-Harris Administration across various federal agencies, with an added emphasis on health equity. AIDS Watch is a unique opportunity for advocates to capitalize on this momentum with Hill meetings to educate staffers on the importance of harm reduction for HIV elimination in the U.S. In addition to key HIV programs, harm reduction provides an opening to think about syndemic approaches to care, using a per. Advocates can and should also advocate for greater infectious disease funding at the CDC and greater use of SAMHSA’s harm reduction framework.

This presentation will provide strategies on how to navigate the politics of harm reduction and help craft targeted messaging for bipartisan solutions. The presentation will include a set of stories from various harm reduction programs across the country to show how they have been successful in addressing harm reduction in politically fraught environments. Finally, advocates will be equipped with the necessary tools, data, and stories for effective harm reduction messaging.

This workshop will endeavor to share key updates to the US Perinatal HIV Clinical Guidelines released by the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in January 2023. While these updates supported shared and informed decision-making practices between patient and provider, lack of awareness and knowledge present barriers for people living with HIV and those who care for them. People living with HIV who are empowered with this information will be better able to make choices that align with their individual circumstances, preferences, and provider recommendations.

Additionally, engaging and educating all key stakeholders, including local, state, and federal policy makers, will facilitate the development and implementation of policies promoting safe infant feeding practices for women and other birthing parents living with HIV, with decreased fear of negative consequences due to their choice. Workshop attendees will learn what the Perinatal HIV Clinical Guidelines are and how they have changed; how they can support and advocate for the needs of women and other birthing people making infant feeding decisions; and where to find more information and resources.

In July, 2018, PrEP4All released a whitepaper outlining the urgent need for a National PrEP Program to immediately address significant disparities in uptake of HIV PrEP. Four years later, the Biden Administration’s FY23 Budget requested nearly $9.8 billion to fund a PrEP for All to End the HIV Epidemic program. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shown racial disparities have only widened as only 13% of Black people who could benefit from PrEP have received a prescription, in comparison to 94% of white people who could benefit. PrEP4All and PrEP In Black America, a coalition of Black HIV prevention advocates, have collaborated on a series of summits and webinars to address disparities in PrEP use among Black communities. As a result, PrEP In Black America has identified three key recommendations to advance PrEP uptake, including 1) Energize the Black public health workforce to lead the HIV prevention response, 2) Educate Black masses on the science and effectiveness of PrEP, and 3) Support a federally-funded National PrEP Program.

SisterReach will present about its work in Memphis, TN and nationally highlighting specific programs that have helped to quell incidents of HIV transmission among the people who trust SisterReach for support and direct service.

The new advocate institute will discuss key federal HIV advocacy strategies for individuals who are new to federal advocacy processes. This session will include discussion of key targets for federal advocacy and the importance of sharing your story with Congressmembers about how public health policy impacts your daily life and overall quality of life.

This workshop deeply delves into the critical reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA) and its profound implications for older people with HIV, recognizing it as a legislative cornerstone significantly affecting quality of life. Understanding the OAA’s reauthorization is vital to ensure equitable care and services for those living with HIV. Additionally, the pressing need for LGBTQ+ and HIV Long-Term Care Bills of Rights will also be addressed. These rights play a pivotal role in safeguarding older individuals with HIV from discrimination and enhancing overall care quality.

The workshop offers high interactivity, integrating engaging discussions, sharing case scenarios, and collaborative brainstorming of advocacy strategies. Attendees will actively participate in a brief yet impactful role-play simulation, assuming roles as community members and elected officials. They will practice describing the unique challenges faced by older people living with HIV and passionately advocating for the reauthorization of the OAA and/or the necessity of an LGBTQ+ and HIV Long Term Care Bills of Rights. By amplifying the voices of people with lived experience and advocating for policy reforms we can reach our goals in the National HIV/AIDS strategy around improving HIV-related health outcomes of people with HIV and reducing HIV-related disparities and health inequities. explore how health disparities affect Black women’s experiences and the connection to testing and treatment. The goal is to help Black women develop and strengthen a positive sexual identity, assist Black women living with HIV take charge of their sexual health and regiment adherence, and challenge providers to include a pleasure focused approach when talking with patients about their sexual health.

6-8 p.m. — AIDSWatch Congressional Reception / Recepción de AIDSWatch para las visitas legislativas

Tuesday, March 19 / Martes, marzo 19

7:30 a.m.-8 a.m. —Bus from RACV to Capitol Hill / Transporte en bus

8-8:45 a.m. — AIDSWatch Rally / Concentración de AIDSWatch
Capitol lawn / El jardín del Capitolio

9 a.m.-5 p.m. — Congressional meetings / Reuniones legislativas
Individual schedules will vary / Los programas individuales pueden variar
For any issues with Hill meetings Tuesday, please contact Soapbox directly at (202) 362-5910.