The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Addresses HIV/AIDS
Last week, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation held its Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) in Washington, D.C. This year's ALC theme, “It Starts With You,” was a call to action for African American youth to lead the positive change needed in public policy, including public health issues such as HIV/AIDS.
Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) Ambassador Hydeia Broadbent spoke at a panel during the conference titled, “Connecting the Dots for Youth: Creating an AIDS Free Generation.” Hydeia shared her personal account of what it was like to grow-up HIV positive in the late 1980s and early 1990s when doctors knew very little about how the virus impacted pediatric patients.
“Doctors told my parents I wouldn’t live past the age of 3, but here I am at 29 years old,” said Hydeia. During her speech, Hydeia stressed how important it is for young people educate themselves about HIV.
“You can’t look at someone and tell whether he or she is HIV positive. I challenge everyone in the audience to go back to friends and family and talk with them about HIV/AIDS. The only way to reduce stigma is to have open discussions.”
Congresswomen Rep. Barbara Lee also spoke at the event. She emphasized how important it is for advocates like Hydeia and her fellow panelists to share their stories and encourage others to learn more about HIV/AIDS, including why it is important to get tested regularly. As a Founding Co-Chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus, Congresswoman Lee has been a long-time advocate for creating policies and legislation for programs dedicated to HIV/AIDS prevention, education, care, and treatment for all.
All of the panelists agreed that through education and advocacy, young people around the world can join together to see the end of HIV/AIDS. Other speakers at the event included:
- Congresswoman Donna Christian-Christensen
- Kali Lindsey, Director, Legislative and Public Affairs, National Minority AIDS Council
- Caya Lewis Counselor to the Secretary for Science and Public Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Rev. Omarosa Manigault, International Goodwill Ambassador
- Bruce Rwabasonga Mandela, Physician, Minnesota Perinatal & Pediatric HIV Program of Children's Hospital Minnesota
- Lawrence Stallworth, Youth Services Coordinator/Beyond Identities Community Center of the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland
- Trina Scott, Associate Director of Health Equity and Youth Empowerment, Advocates for Youth
- Christopher Barnhill, HIV/AIDS activist, Founder/CEO of POZitive Impact, LLC
- Laurel Sprague, Ph.Dc, Research Director, The Sero Project, Regional Coordinator, The Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, North America.
Want to get involved in the fight to eliminate HIV worldwide? Learn how here!
Johanna Harvey is Senior Communications Officer at EGPAF, based in Washington, D.C.