The most stunning facet of the International AIDS Pre-Conference ("Gay Day") at the International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016), sponsored by the Global Forum on MSM & HIV, was that so many of the gay men in attendance had the courage to show up at all. Held on July 16, the gathering featured hundreds of gay HIV advocates, including those from countries in which they risk dire consequences for being open about their sexuality -- or for even providing services to other gay men.
In the first installment of my video blog coverage of AIDS 2016, I was surprised at how personally these gay men spoke about their lives back home. I also chatted with a "chemsex" expert from the United Kingdom about the surprising rates of crystal meth use among gay Londoners, and, as a bonus, I even engaged in a little PrEP drug smuggling with a German who is taking the prevention medication -- even though PrEP has yet to be approved in his home country.
Chris Beyrer, M.D., the openly gay president of the International AIDS Society, which convenes the massive AIDS 2016 conference, also has some strong words about the language around "ending AIDS," while hailing PrEP as the most powerful and effective new prevention tool since the condom.
My coverage continues this week with planned marches, activist protests and trips to the eye-popping Global Village. The Global Village represents everything inspiring and creative about AIDS activism from around the globe. It's like "It's A Small World" for AIDS. I can't wait to show it to you.