The world is watching as news of two more cured come out of IAS. The world is watching as questions about the "End of AIDS" seem more plausible than ever before especially for those of us who remember bold claims of yester year that we once believed only to have our hopes dashed by a virus more adept at adapting and mutating into something far more complex than what had been seen before.
It has been 20 plus years since the International AIDS Conference has been on US soil and it is much different than it was then. We in many ways are more battle tested and weary from the fight when we see pockets of infections that have not decreased, stigma and discrimination still lurking, criminalization in our midst. Yet there is hope abound. There is an energy and excitement that is showing the world that we, the community of infected and affected, are survivors.
Each person you meet has a story to tell of why and how they came to the conference. The protests and marches have reminded us there is still work to be done on a very practical level. They have reminded us to hold our leaders accountable whether it is for sex workers rights, ADAP waiting lists, fighting against funding caps, inclusion of women specific needs in research questions, access to needle exchange, etc. The science has reminded us we have come a long way. People can live longer. They are options for prevention. There is hope for an end in sight. The camaraderie has reminded us that the community we live and serve in is interconnected, diverse, and beautiful like the quilt on display.
The world is watching! I can't wait to see and show you what happens next.