“We can find a way to end HIV. We got heart, and maybe that’s enough to fight the racism, stigma, homophobia, gender inequity …. We got to stick together. We got to stay strong.”
Todrick Hall sang these words, kicking off “Convergence: Forging the Path to End HIV,” a panel discussion plenary at the five-day Creating Change Conference, hosted by the National LGBTQ Task Force in Center City Philadelphia. Hall, an openly gay and popular YouTube entertainer, received great applause from the audience.
The aim of the discussion was to address the stigma surrounding HIV in hopes of eliminating the virus.
When compared to other countries, the United States has a realtively low suppression rate, which is the number of people living with HIV but undergoing treatment, thereby decreasing the likelihood of spreading the virus.
Panelist Dr. Richard Elion of George Washington University explained that, “[In] Uganda, the rate of suppression runs at about 55 percent, compared to 30 percent in the United States. So clearly, our country is not doing something that we need to be looking at.”
Elion said there is more to decreasing the spread of HIV than affordable diagnosis and treatment options, and that combating the stigma of HIV is vital.