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Performers and Politicians, Cheers and Chants at AIDS Conference

Performers and Politicians, Cheers and Chants at AIDS Conferencei
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July 24, 2012
Thousands of people gathered at the convention center in Washington, D.C. Monday for the second day of the International AIDS Conference. AS VOA's Suzanne Presto reports, celebrities and diplomats took center stage, and fans and protesters gathered at the conference's Global Village site.
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Suzanne Presto
WASHINGTON — Thousands of people gathered at the convention center in Washington, D.C. Monday for the second day of the International AIDS Conference. Celebrities and diplomats took center stage, and fans and protesters gathered at the conference's Global Village site.
 
HIV-positive singer Jamar Rogers commanded the stage, just as he did as a semifinalist on the popular U.S. singing competition television program, "The Voice."    
 
But Rogers was not the only action on the Global Village stage at the International AIDS conference.
 
Protesters demanding more housing for HIV-positive residents in Washington, D.C. rushed the stage when Mayor Vincent Gray spoke.  HIV is an epidemic in the U.S. capital.
 

(Click to View Photo Gallery)

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  • The XIX International AIDS Conference at the Washington Convention Center in DC.
  • Aaron Laxton gathers in front of the White House in Washington during an AIDS demonstration, July 24, 2012, as the AIDS conference continues.
  • Activists gather for the We Can End AIDS march through Washington, July 24, 2012. (Alison Klein/VOA)
  • Activists gather for the We Can End AIDS march through Washington, July 24, 2012. (Alison Klein/VOA)
  • A member of the audience looks at slides during a speech given by Barton Haynes, Director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute and the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI), July 25, 2012.
  • A variety of art, dancing, and performances can be found in the Global Village at AIDS 2012. 
  • Attendees view works of art and biographical stories in the rotunda outside the conference.
  • Bill Gates and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim speak at the conference, July 23, 2012. (Alison Klein/VOA)
  • A woman looks out over the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which is now in its 25th year, on the National Mall in Washington July 24, 2012.
  • People walk in the AIDS March in Washington, July 22, 2012.
  • Sir Elton John speaks at conference, July 23, 2012, in Washington.
  • A display is set up in the Convention Center by The CONDOMIZE! Campaign. The campaign is a joint program of the United Nations Population Fund; its goals are to de-stigmatize and encourage access to condoms around the world. (Alison Klein/VOA)
  • 2,000 journalists were expected to cover the AIDS conference. (Alison Klein/VOA)
  • A translation booth is set up which enables live translated versions of speeches to be recorded and broadcast throughout the building. There are booths for Arabic, Chinese, Russian, French, and Spanish; the Spanish booth is pictured. (Alison Klein/VOA)
  • The Orphan Tower, a tower of small beaded cloth dolls, is set up at the AIDS conference. The tower signifies the number of young children orphaned by AIDS in South Africa -- the current number is 3.7 million. (Alison Klein/VOA)
  • International attendees line up to obtain cell phones at the Washington Convention Center, July 23, 2012. (Alison Klein/VOA)
  • A variety of art, dancing, and performances can be found in the Global Village at AIDS 2012.
  • AIDS demonstrators outside the White House, Washington, July 24, 2012. (P. deHahn/VOA)

(Click to View Photo Gallery)

Jeromy Dunn, a radio show host from North Carolina, finds the activism invigorating. "That's what this is all about about.  It's all about getting up and getting angry again," he said. 
 
Dunn, who is HIV-positive and takes antiretroviral drugs, says medical breakthroughs have had an unintended side effect during the past 20 years. "Since the advent of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy, or HAART combination therapies, we've become complacent as a nation.  And this is the kind of anger and the kind of vitriolic response that we need," he said. 
 
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a community organization founded in San Francisco, California, battle complacency with flamboyance and humor. 
 
Sister Vicious reflects on the days since he began organizing AIDS awareness and safe sex programs in 1981. "Well, there's still stigma attached to it [i.e., HIV / AIDS], not in the amount that we experienced in the early 1980s.  And the whole AIDS crisis has gone global, of course, and touched more communities than the gay male community that was experiencing it in America originally," he said. 
 
Sir Elton John speaks at the XIX International Aids Conference, July 23, 2012, in Washington.Sir Elton John speaks at the XIX International Aids Conference, July 23, 2012, in Washington.
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Sir Elton John speaks at the XIX International Aids Conference, July 23, 2012, in Washington.
Sir Elton John speaks at the XIX International Aids Conference, July 23, 2012, in Washington.
British rock star Elton John said the stigma makes it more difficult to fight the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. "The AIDS disease is caused by a virus, but the AIDS epidemic is not.  The AIDS epidemic is fueled by stigma, by hate, by misinformation, by ignorance, by indifference," he said. 

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged that the United States will continue to battle HIV and AIDS.
 
"Well, I am here to make it absolutely clear, the United States is committed and will remain committed to achieving an AIDS-free generation.  We will not back off; we will not back down.  We will fight for the resources to achieve this historic milestone," she said.

Related video report by Jerome Socolovsky

Play Recalls Early Denial of AIDS Crisisi
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Jerome Socolovsky
July 23, 2012
As scientists, political leaders and activists meet at the 19th annual AIDS conference here in Washington, a Tony-award winning play at a nearby theater recalls the early days of the epidemic, when gay men faced an uphill battle in getting help. As VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports, the production of The Normal Heart was timed to coincide with the AIDS conference.

 

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by: hivsingles from: NY
July 24, 2012 1:05 AM

The emotional impact of discovering that you have HIV / AIDS can outweigh the physical health issues one has to deal with. Go to HIVMatching.com to find support and other people with HIV / AIDS in your area!

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