The United States Conference on AIDS (USCA) is a phenomenal conference that takes place every year with high hopes of raising awareness around the national response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The theme for the 2015 USCA conference was “The Numbers Don’t Lie: It’s Time to End the Disparities” and brought together a diverse group of educators, researchers, students and doctors from all over the world.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to effect many lives, especially the communities of color. During the preliminary breakfast a presentation entitled “Black Lives Matters” discussed the bold campaign to protest injustice and violent acts that have plagued members of the African American community. This movement was started to raise awareness of the issues of violent and civil injustice.
During the conference, Valerie Spencer and Congresswoman Maxine Waters spoke on specific issues regarding healthcare and disparities of all communities of color. One young speaker who stood out was Mr. Deray McKesson, named one of the new civil rights leaders of the 21st century, gave a powerful heartfelt speech about Black Lives Matters. McKesson spoke about the importance of black lives overall not just about violent acts towards members of the African American community also in healthcare and the HIV epidemic. He also shared his experiences with healthcare and the misinterpretation of irrelevance of wanting healthcare. He quoted, “I don’t have to condone it to understand it.” These words were very powerful to me not only for the state of violence and the campaign of black lives matters, but the reality of the epidemic and the injustice of health systems and increase rates of HIV/AIDS in communities of color.
Mr. Mckesson ended with “You don’t get to pick and or choose which parts of my identity to highlight to sustain your version of the truth. See all of me or your lying.” His words conveys the theme of this year’s USCA conference.