What an amazing conference we had in Gainesville last week! The Florida Community Providers Researchers (CPR) for HIV Conference, co-sponsored by SHARC and the Florida Consortium for AIDS Research, had over 120 people registered and the main conference room was packed. There were over 30 posters, including three best abstracts whose presenters also gave oral presentations (Congratulations Annie, Ti-Ti, and Micaela), and one that received the People’s Choice Award (Congrats, Jenny Applebaum!).
It feels somewhat unique to be at a conference with so much emphasis on community engagement. We had presentations by persons with lived HIV experience, discussions of new interventions to reduce HIV stigma, and examples of how medical-legal partnerships could help persons with HIV to gain access to attorneys. There were updates on the HIV epidemic in the state and the new 2022-2026 HIV Strategic Plan, updates on pending legal issues that could impact PLWH in Florida, and a panel of experts from community-based organizations in Florida. We had a lot of audience participation, including an interesting discussion related to the ethics of identifying very specific geographic hot- spots for HIV based on data, but with a specificity that could impact the identified community. We heard about new strategies to engage the community in research, and I presented a summary of some of our recent findings on alcohol and HIV from our Florida Cohort and What-IF research projects.
Many of the conference attendees participated in a “coffee with a mentor” session and we engaged mentors and mentees from across the state – including several university partners (UM, FIU, UCF, USF, FSU), the Florida Department of Health, and several community- based organizations. Overall, the diversity of the presentersreflected the diversity of people with HIV in Florida.
I want to give a very special shout-out and thanks to our overall meeting coordinators (Sean McIntosh and Amy Gandy), our program planning committee, the administrative team at the AIDS Institute, and to SHARC Staff and student volunteers who helped to make the event a success. The 2024 conference planning committee is being formed now and will start planning the next meeting soon! For now, great job everyone!
Please view this message from Harold Phillips Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy.