AIDS 2012 Conference Shuts Out Locals

Colorlines contributor Akiba Solomon reflects on last week's international confab and writes that more of those affected by the pandemic should be given access to the conversation.

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Bill Clinton at AIDS 2012 (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

African Americans are one of the leading ethnics groups affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, but according to Colorlines columnist Akiba Solomon, many weren't able to join the conversation during last week's AIDS 2012 Conference. Hopeful local volunteers were left outside trying to figure out a way to lend a hand in the fight against a disease killing so many of us.

Instead, [my colleague Jamilah King] came away with the powerful story and words of Vanessa Motley, a black 49-year-old D.C. native who has been fighting the HIV she got from the love of her life for 26 years:

"I didn't meet her inside the conference itself, but outside—sitting across the street, beneath a tree. It was a Wednesday, and she told me she'd only heard about the conference the Sunday before, while she was watching TV after church. She lives out in Virginia and volunteers at her local YMCA, and she was hoping to get some information to take back to the folks in her community. But that was proving to be difficult. She'd been trying to get into the conference all morning to volunteer, and was frustrated by all the red tape involved. I asked her if she's seen a lot of local folks at the conference.

"We're here, just not sure where we're supposed to be,” she told me.”

Read Akiba Solomon's entire piece at Colorlines.

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