Microbicides could be new HIV prevention tool

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A potential new tool for HIV prevention will be the topic of a town hall meeting set for Sept. 20 in Nashville.

“Safe, effective vaginal and rectal microbicides would be an important new prevention option for men and women around the world,” according to longtime advocate Jim Pickett, the featured speaker at a Nashville town hall meeting next week. 

The Tennessee Association of People With AIDS (TAPWA) is presenting the event.

Microbicides dominated media coverage of the International AIDS Conference recently held in Toronto, Canada. 

“In a culture where we can order over 100 kinds of coffee, it shocks me that we have had so few ways to protect ourselves from HIV,” remarked Pickett. 

Microbicides will be critical as “an HIV tool that puts power in the hands of women,” according to community activist and educator Keri Adams.  “In a perfect world, abstinence, condoms and monogamous relationships would prevent HIV/AIDS.  Dream on!  In the real world, women often don’t have control over their sex lives.”

Pickett, a person living with HIV, traveled to Tennessee twice in 2001 to present the Chicago Department of Public Health’s acclaimed "Faces of AIDS" exhibit.  He currently serves as the Director of Public Policy for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, a Global Campaign for Microbicides site, and co-founded the International Rectal Microbicide Working Group.   Mayor Richard J. Daley inducted him into Chicago’s Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame last year.

The free and open event will be held Wednesday evening, September 20, at 6:00 PM at the Holiday Inn Select Vanderbilt on West End Avenue across from Centennial Park.  No reservations are required, and refreshments will be served.  It is made possible with support from the Southeast Tennessee Development District and the state of Tennessee’s HIV/AIDS/STD division.  Local collaborators include Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee and the Community Advisory Boards of the Vanderbilt AIDS Clinical Trials Center and the Vanderbilt HIV Vaccine Program.