The SYNChronicity 2019 Conference convened April 14-16, 2019, in Washington, DC, for three days of networking by and presentations from clinicians, policymakers, community advocates, and service providers about HIV, HCV, STDs, as well as health priorities among LGBT communities.
IAPAC Vice President for Programs Dr. Chris Duncombe briefed SYNC 2019 delegates about recent progress in the Fast-Track Cities initiative, and discussed its alignment with the new locally-focused federal plan to end the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030. Since 2014, 23 US municipalities have joined the global Fast-Track Cities network of more than 270 municipalities working to achieve common targets related to HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and viral suppression. Fast-Track Cities are also working to eliminate HIV-related stigma, notably in health settings, and promoting the “U=U” message, which states that people living with HIV who take their antiretroviral therapy as prescribed and achieve an “undetectable” viral load cannot sexually transmit HIV to serodiscordant partners.
SYNC 2019, of which IAPAC was one of several supporting partners, also provided an opportunity for discussions about women’s health, opioid addiction, and aging with HIV. Another session dedicated to policy reform offered an update on the latest efforts to address HIV criminalization in the United States. Activists noted that laws criminalizing the transmission of HIV often fail to consider the presence of a deliberate intent to cause harm. Most state laws are also not scientifically accurate, failing to reflect the reality of HIV treatment in the 21st century. Furthermore, these laws can have a negative impact on public health. The repeal of criminal penalties for HIV transmission – as called for in the IAPAC Guidelines for Optimizing the HIV Care Continuum – can also reduce stigma and encourage people to get tested for HIV.