The mission of the Southern AIDS Coalition (SAC) is to end the HIV and STI epidemics in the South by promoting accessible and high-quality systems of [HIV and STI] prevention, treatment, care, housing, and essential support services.
When SAC started in 2001, the HIV epidemic in the South was largely ignored. In those early years, we were just a handful of extraordinary advocates working together to demand more resources to address the HIV and AIDS state of emergency in our states. We assembled a number of case studies and released the first-ever Southern States Manifesto in 2002. These case studies were presented nationwide, garnering national attention from the media, funders, and policymakers.
We then turned our attention to the Ryan White Program, determined to change the legislation to create more equitable funding for southern states. After three years of meetings, press conferences, and congressional hearings, H.R. 6143 was passed in 2006. The reauthorization included many significant changes including modifying the distribution formula from cumulative AIDS data to actual living HIV and AIDS cases, redirecting an approximate $30 million to the South.
The victory of bringing increased federal dollars into the South was a hard-fought battle, and one that required advocacy by public health leaders, community advocates, and community-based organizations. SAC continues its commitment to creating a "large tent" approach to advocacy. One that welcomes, and insists upon, the inclusion of a range of voices and experiences—and centers the expertise of those living with and personally impacted by HIV. In addition to federal policy priorities, SAC is currently working to build the capacity of state-based networks to address their local needs—and to identify models of transformation in southern states that can be replicated across the region.
Saving Ourselves Symposium (SOS) 2023
The Saving Ourselves Symposium (SOS) is a one-of-a-kind annual conference designed to provide first-hand information to the Black LGBTQ+ community in the South, to educate and empower individuals and organizations with an emphasis on HIV. Established in 2013 by founder Marvell L. Terry II and the Red Door Foundation, Southern AIDS Coalition became home to SOS in 2019.
Sessions provide cutting-edge research, share promising health practices and strategies, and celebrate the culture and creativity of the Black LGBTQ+ community. This convening takes a dual approach of not only prioritizing those who provide services but also those who identify as LGBTQ+. It is a unique and intentional space for the community to share with, learn from, and celebrate one another.
The 2023 conference takes place August 3 – 6 in Atlanta, GA; the theme this year is "Say It Loud!"
Learn more on the conference website: sosexperience.org