International AIDS Conference 2012

From left to right: Marsha Martin: director of Get Screened Oakland; Naina Khanna is a member of the 19th International AIDS Conference committee and she is one of 12 members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA); Cynthia Carey-Grant, Executive Director at Women Organized to Respond to Life-threatening Disease (WORLD); Oakland’s Mayor Jean Quan and Kabir Hypolite: Executive Director of Alameda County Office of AIDS.

By Jesse
Brooks

In less than one year the biggest HIV/AIDS conference in the world will be hosted in Washington D.C., July 22-27th, and Oakland is strategically planning to get its time in the spotlight, and step out of the shadow of San Francisco when it comes to HIV/AIDS.  The 19th International AIDS conference will be the first time in 22 years since the conference was last held here in the United States.
The International AIDS Conference is the premier meeting for those working in the HIV/AIDS field. The conference is expected to attract over 25,000 delegates of scientists, researchers, community leaders, advocates, activists, and people living with HIV/AIDS, from over 200 countries. People from all over the world will share research, ideas and developing solutions to address the challenges posed by HIV/AIDS globally, and in the United States.
So the world will be watching and Oakland is making plans to seize the opportunity to show the world the real picture of the U.S.’s epidemic. When other countries view the U.S. concerning HIV/AIDS, they think of big cities like SF and New York with their huge populations and huge AIDS numbers. They don’t hear of cities, situated besides these giants, like Oakland, whose populations are not comparable to the big cities, but are impacted by HIV/AIDS just as much.
Oakland has a unique HIV history and has some amazing successes and dismal failures, uniquely to Oakland. Who will tell the story, if we don’t? We can also be representatives of other small shadow cities, where special populations like African Americans in Oakland,  are impacted at emergency levels, but because of their small populations, don’t get the attention.  The conference will afford us the opportunity to step out of the shadows and say “We are here, and we will continue to fight”.
At the Oakland’s conference preparation  kick off meeting, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, via phone told the group gathered,  “Oakland should no longer take second rate and be in the shadows when it comes to the focus and attention in the fight against HIV/AIDS”,  Lee said , “We face the challenge of needing more resources where the needs are great.”  In May, this year, Lee hosted the organizing committees for AIDS conference 2012 in Oakland. The group met with leaders of local HIV service providers and visited an HIV clinic in Oakland, as they began the process of building the program for 2012.  Congresswoman Lee has been a leader in the fight against the global HIV pandemic for many years.  
Oakland’s meeting was hosted by U.S. Positive Women’s Network (PWN) who was chosen as one of seven local and regional partners. PWN is a Program of “Women Organized Response against Life threatening Diseases (WORLD) who is based here in Oakland just moving to at a new location in Oakland. The group celebrates 20 years next year.
The 19th International Conference is slated to be the largest global gathering that Washington, DC has ever hosted.  For more info: www.womenhiv.org.  For questions or comments contact Jesse Brooks 575-8245 or mrjessebrookii@gmail.com