September 8, 2018
Written by Trenton Straube
Activism took center stage at the 22nd annual U.S. Conference on AIDS (#2018USCA), being held September 6 through 9 in Orlando.
“For this year’s conference, we wanted to focus on the importance of activism in the fight against HIV,” said Paul Kawata, executive director of National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC), which organizes the yearly events.
“Activism played such a crucial role in the early years of the epidemic, bringing pressure on governments, industry and society to respond to the epidemic with urgency and compassion,” Kawata explained in a press release. “Today, as we face an uncertain political environment, HIV activism is needed more than ever. We hope this conference will reignite the kind of passion and action in the HIV community that we saw at the very beginning. If we are truly going to end the epidemic, that kind of commitment is what we will need from everyone.”
To that end, prominent activists from various social movements helped kick off USCA, including Alicia Garza, a cofounder of #BlackLivesMatter; David Hogg, a survivor of the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida; Abigail Echo-Hawk, director of the Urban Indian Health institute in Seattle; and Richard L. Zaldivar, executive director of The Wall Las Memorias Project in Los Angeles. (A large screen onstage summed up the theme of the opening plenary session nicely, greeting the crowd with the message: “Activism and the Intersection of Movements Fighting for Social Justice.”)
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