This week, Washington, DC plays host to the 19th International AIDS Conference, a global gathering for researchers, policy makers, persons living with HIV and others committed to ending this pandemic. Each year, this conference is a chance to assess where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going as a planet in confronting this disease. This year’s theme is “Turning the Tide Together” which emphasizes a positive and real sense of hope and unity in this common struggle.
For HUD’s part, housing is key to helping extremely poor persons who are trying to stay healthy while fighting to avoid homelessness. HUD’s Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Program (HOPWA) provides grants to local communities that offer permanent supportive housing for those households so they can manage their health and access needed supportive services such as case management and employment training. These grants also increase job opportunities for persons and support Opening Doors, the Obama Administration’s strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness.
This week as the world’s top minds gather here in Washington, the AIDS Memorial Quilt is on display on the Mall and several other parts of our nation’s capital. This visible testament to the AIDS crisis has a personal resonance for me. Dennis was my older brother, a giant in our big family. He, like so many others, lost his battle to this disease and is among the more than 48,000 names on that beautifully sad tapestry. But he continues to live on in our memories and reminds us that our job among the living is far from over.