Phill Wilson is in a good mood. As someone who has been living with the HIV/AIDS virus for more than 30 years, Wilson believes that now is both a defining and deciding moment in ending the epidemic that has plagued the world and has been especially cruel to Black America.
Wilson is the CEO and president of the Black AIDS Institute (BAI) in California and kicked off the commencement of the 2012 International AIDS Conference (IAC) Monday morning in Washington, D.C. The conference attracted thousands of scientists, researchers, policy makers, politicos and people living with HIV/AIDS from around the globe. Many of the events, speeches and seminars at the event were streamed live on the Internet or highlighted on various websites.
In a resounding opening speech, Wilson said America has finally gotten it right and acquired the knowledge, skills and instruments needed to end the epidemic. “Thirty-one years after the disease was discovered, we have the right combination of tools and knowledge to stop the epidemic. Our tools are far from perfect, but they are good enough to get the job done–if we use them efficiently, effectively, expeditiously and compassionately.”
Wilson lauded the efforts of President Barack Obama and, most notably, the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which will ultimately deliver health care coverage to millions of uninsured Americans, including many living with HIV/AIDS.
“There is no comparison between the amount of attention this administration is paying to the domestic epidemic and how the previous administration addressed it. If the president is successful in turning around the economy and reforming health care, that will help people with AIDS,” said Wilson. “We need to be heavily invested in this health care reform conversion.”
Wilson was one of a handful of notable and inaugural day conference attendees and speakers, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Dr. Sheila Tlou, director of the UN/AIDS Regional Support Team for East and Southern Africa.
For excerpts from Wilson’s speech, visit the BAI online at www.blackaids.org.