So, I've filled you in what AIDS Watch is all about, but in case you forgot, it's the premier gathering of advocates and people living with HIV from all over the nation for a high impact policy traninng on key issues impacting people living with HIV and arming them with resources to have dialogue with their elected congress people on what they should do about it. But then, it's so much more than that! It's what an empowered legacy looks like! It's what never giving up and using the collective power of voice to create change looks like. It's presented by the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation and AIDS United and this year featured more than 650 people from 34 states, DC and Puerto Rico to continue sharing their truth and enact their power in their communities.
|I know that's rain, but there's a theme I'm trying to stick with, Carry on.|
A First Time Peek from the Hill at AIDS Watch 2017
Just to highlight some surrounding information:
- We had a morning group photo and rally, until the rain came. Unlike some outreach events I have worked in the past, the rain means nothing! March on soldier!
- Capitol Hill is literally a hill. I did not realize this until of course I was half way up. Thank God for comfortable shoes.
- In meetings with members of Congress on days like this (these meetings were pre-scheduled), there may be last minute changes and people may hi-jack your thirty minutes to spend 20 minutes talking about their state issues. Rude, but I get it. Get in where you fit in.
- There is a buzzer/clock in some Congress members offices that goes off when they have to go to the floor to vote. Watching this on TV when the tally of who votes Yes or No shows on the screen, I always wondered why the room was empty or had a small group of legislators milling around, how they were determining when someone voted. I now know. They literally run over the House or Senate floor, vote and leave. I witnessed this in my last scheduled meeting with Rep. Darren Soto. His staff was so friendly and funny while I waited.
AIDS Foundation of Chicago | AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin | AIDS United | amFAR | Bristol-Myers Squibb | The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation | Gay Men's Health Crisis (GHMC) | Human Rights Campaign Foundation | Janssen/Johnson & Johnson | Legacy Community Health | Merck | NAPO Pharmaceuticals | National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) | National Black Justice Coalition | National Minority AIDS Coalition | NC AIDS Action Network | Planned Parenthood | Treatment Expansion Access Project | US PLHIV Caucus
And lastly, but definitely not least. For those of you wondering why in the world I have a Mean Girls theme throughout the images in this blog post...
The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation has a team of ambassadors all committed to the mission of providing grants to domestic and international organizations that service efforts for treating people living with HIV and AIDS. While they support marginalized communities, they are also breaking ground with support to innovative HIV education and advocacy programs including efforts on HIV criminalization.
I tell you this because as I sat in the overflow room of Day 1 listening to various presenters acknowledge the work that has been done and the work still ahead of us, a team of ambassadors was recognized in the room. This time includes Elizabeth Taylor's grandchildren and great-grandchildren (who I greatly look forward to meeting in person one day) as well as Chandi Moore (xoxo), "Trans-Diva" and bestie to Caitlyn Jenner on I am Cait and Daniel Franzese, best known for his amazing smile and giving fans of Mean Girls one-liners to live by.