Karen Ocamb

Alex Garner Reporting from US Conference on AIDS

Filed By Karen Ocamb | November 13, 2011 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Alex Garner, HIV/AIDS, Kathleen Sebelius, Obama Administration, US Conference on AIDS

Alex Garner, HIV and health contributor to Frontiers In LA magazine and the author of The Infection Monologues (which he co-wrote with the late Eric Rofes), is reporting from the US Conference on AIDS in Chicago for Frontiers. Today, Saturday, Nov. 12, at 3:00pm, he will also be reading an excerpt from the play in the Exhibit Hall. He describes the play this way:

The Infection Monologues explores the experiences of five gay men who have recently tested positive for HIV. These diverse men's journeys begin with testing positive and then go on to reflect on a life before HIV and move on to coming to terms with HIV in our contemporary world. With wit and humor they explore the perilous issues of stigma and shame, dating and disclosure and the challenge of maintaining a healthy sexuality. Their experiences are funny, thoughtful, poignant and provocative. These stories challenge the way we think about what it means to be HIV positive in the modern world in which we now live.

Here are two excerpts from Alex’s posts on the USCA:

From Thursday, Nov. 10:

It was quite an eventful day today as the US conference on AIDS got off to a great start. The speakers ranged from Obama administration officials to a CNN reporter to a reality show star to a bold Chinese LGBT activist. An optimistic tone for the day was set when The National Minority AIDS Council announced that they have officially changed their mission statement to no longer be about simply meeting the challenges of HIV but to ending HIV.

The Secretary of Health and Human Service, Kathleen Sebelius spoke passionately about her commitment to an AIDS free generation, echoing the words of Secretary Clinton from earlier this week. The full text of her speech can be found here.

From Friday, Nov. 11:

It's a rapidly changing world when it comes to HIV. Just like we saw the world of AIDS come to an end in the US with the advent of protease inhibitors, we are now at a similar game changing juncture with HIV thanks to Treatment as Prevention. Treatment as Prevention is basically using antiretroviral drugs to prevent new infections. Some of these strategies include putting positive people on medication to lower their viral load and thus the community viral load, and Pre and Post Exposure Prophylaxis.

So in the midst of all this, how do we redefine HIV? That is what Phill Wilson, of The Black AIDS Institute, talked about today at the luncheon plenary at the US Conference on AIDS. He spoke very eloquently about the tools we have at our disposal to bring an end to HIV. He also challenged our communities to ask ourselves if we are in the business of saving HIV institutions or ending the epidemic. His talk of the challenges of the AIDS establishment resonated but I wonder if the irony was lost on him that here was an entrenched member of the AIDS establishment, rallying against it. It felt a bit like listening to an incumbent candidate railing against the establishment.

(Crossposted at LGBT POV)

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