Fall AIDSWatch Recap

On Nov. 20, AIDS United brought together over 100 participants for the fourth annual Fall AIDSWatch. Participants had an hour-long crash course in how to fight for HIV programs with congressional and state representatives, as well as getting access to resources and collaborators to develop advocacy skills and expand successful practices.

The session began with a policy recap, examining where federal HIV funding stands in a year where we’ve seen many Republican representatives eager to cut programs. These cuts would specifically endanger people living with HIV (and AIDS United has an action alert ongoing to prevent this cuts).

While possible cuts have been delayed thanks to a continuing resolution, there is still a very real possibility HIV funding might face harm. Protecting these programs will be the main focus for efforts during AIDSWatch 2024.

The main centerpiece for Fall AIDSWatch was a series of mock congressional trainings featuring a number of realistic scenarios anyone meeting on the Hill may experience. These can range from pleasant and productive to bewilderingly complex and frustrating. These are normal experiences for anyone advocating for HIV programs, and anyone looking to advocate ought to be prepared: as noted, one must always breathe and stay calm, do your research and enter with a plan for any possibility.

One practiced scenario included where the staffers were supportive and eager to learn more, the other where the meeting went unexpectedly as the advocate met with less-than-interested staffers. The question for both was: How can we react to these scenarios and still produce helpful results in our cause?

Both Christina Adeleke, senior policy manager and community mobilization and health equity at AIDS United and Sattie Nyachwaya, state policy manager at AIDS United, also gave a thorough rundown of what is needed for each experience and what is needed to prepare (of which you can get a helpful guide on our website). Nyachwaya also gave a helpful update on various state policies throughout the country and how to adjust these skills for local statehouses.

This event is precursor to the larger, in person gathering set for March 17-19, where these skills will be refined and practiced on Capitol Hill. Interested in attending for an in-person experience? Registration is open for the 31st annual AIDSWatch.

If you missed fall AIDSWatch (or want to check it out again) you can see the full recorded session on our Youtube channel.