2016 USCA

Submitted on Sep 29, 2016 by  katie06

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The USCA was recently held in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and I must say, it was a beautiful location! About 4,000 people gathered in Florida. It's a good mixture of people working within the HIV field and advocates, alike! I attend many conferences, but the USCA is one of my favorites! The atmosphere is so welcoming to advocates, yet incorporates a professional component, as well.

I was fortunate to speak on a round table at the conference with a few of the A Girl Like Me bloggers, called "A Girl Like Me: Crossing Borders, Tackling Stigma through Technology." I was nervous, of course. But honestly, it went great! Each of us discussed our roles, our journeys to becoming advocates and how A Girl Like Me has impacted our lives. Being among these amazing, strong and courageous women was inspiring!

One of my favorite sessions at the USCA was a lunch plenary with Paul Kawata, the Executive Director of NMAC (the organization which organizes the USCA). Paul welcomed the advocates and our efforts, stating "If the USCA is anything, it's a place to be yourself." During the lunch plenary, I also heard Ken Williams (known as 'kenlikebarbie') speak. He spoke on stigma and stated "Stigma is oppressive to the point that it kills."

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While we've come far in our fight against HIV, we still have a lot of work ahead to reduce stigma.

The USCA was an amazing conference. It rejuvenated my advocacy efforts and re-energized me! I'm so very blessed to have the opportunity to be among the people in attendance. They are truly inspiring and I'm grateful for their friendships!

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