I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend the Women as the Face of AIDS Summit hosted by Iris House again this year. It was the second in-person summit since the COVID pandemic began, but I was attending virtually. I was still honored to be in the room and listen to the great speakers.
Ingrid Floyd, the executive director of Iris House, gave the opening remarks; then there were some great panels talking about reframing HIV. The beautiful and inspirational Ci Ci Covin from The Well Project moderated the discussion and the unstoppable Kimberly Canady, also from The Well Project, was one of the panelists. I thought they were amazing. I've always admired Kim's courageous and outspoken nature. She's the kind of girl you'd want to have your back in any situation, which makes her an amazing advocate; and she's extremely intelligent and passionate about what she does. I would have had her on my panel too.
The awesome Deirdre Johnson (otherwise known as Deirdre Speaks, infamous for her red glasses, lol) and Dr. Jasmine Ward shared about a retreat they did called Black Girls Spring for R&R. It sounded like a great idea, to have some much-needed fun and relaxation while working in some education. I wished I was able to go lol.
Then Iris House gave awards to three women, and Krista Martel, the executive director of The Well Project, was one of the honorees. I thought it was well deserved; I've always thought she was an amazing woman, and does so much that she doesn't take credit for. Now she had no choice lol, she had to take the award!
After a lunch break there was a selection of workshops. The first one I attended was about social media, which interested me because the bulk of my work pertains to social media. It was called "The Future of Advocacy"; I thought that was fitting because I have long felt that the future of advocacy was in social media. Next to television or radio I think it's the best way to get a message out and reach people, especially young adults, and its popularity is only growing. They talked about how to construct a good post and offered some great examples like grabbing attention with costumes and funny skits, and carefully considering the platform and target audience when planning your message. They discussed the platforms that are popular with different audiences and how to get the most engagement from your audience. I found this workshop extremely useful and beneficial.
The final workshop of the day was an interesting discussion about developing programs for trans women at elevated risk of HIV. They talked about services that are needed by the trans/nonbinary community and access or barriers to care. Their goals were to reduce social oppression, discrimination, and stigmatization to increase uptake of PrEP among transgender women and improve awareness and knowledge of transgender women's healthcare needs. Their program, called "Amida Care" seemed pretty awesome to provide comprehensive healthcare and prevention services to/for women of transgender experience. It's especially needed at such a time as we face now.
All in all, I really enjoyed the conference. Though I had trouble hearing some of the workshop speakers (technical difficulties on my end), I thought Iris House did a fantastic job and I'm glad I was able to attend.