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NASW takes part in International AIDS Conference

NASW hosted a discussion July 24 in the LGBT Networking Zone at the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C.

Speakers from various disciplines gathered for the session called “LGBTI Human Rights: Building Capacities through National and International Associations and Federations.”

The event was open to anyone at the conference’s Global Village section.

Attendees learned how social workers and allied psychosocial care providers work with legal and public health advocates to end LGBT discrimination and promote LGBT equity on national and global levels.

Gary Bailey, former NASW president and president of the International Federation of Social Workers, spoke about IFSW’s organizational guidelines that bridge social work practice, LGBT human rights and HIV/AIDS care and policy on a global level.

Bailey said the AIDS conference was a great opportunity to learn about the latest HIV/AIDS policies and other efforts.

“I was also able to see friends from different institutions present and share their research,” Bailey said. “It was amazing and I am looking forward to what will come from these meetings.”

Evelyn Tomaszewski, NASW HIV/AIDS Spectrum Project senior policy adviser, spoke at the session about the many ways the social work profession has held a leadership role in addressing the human rights of marginalized at-risk persons and cultures, and the ongoing opportunity for interdisciplinary groups to work together to promote social justice.

“This was a great opportunity to create dialogue and to stress the need to address health and mental health as part of the dialogue to confront human rights violations as they relate to the LGBTI community,” Tomaszewski said.

Speakers came from various government and nongovernment organizations addressing HIV/AIDS, including the American Bar Association, AIDS Coordinating Committee, the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care, and the Texas Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Promotora Programs.

Among those who spoke were Tonia Poteat, senior adviser for Key Populations with the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator; and A.J. Pearlman, external affairs specialist with the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs within the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.

“This gathering helped identify ways different organizations and diverse disciplines can work collaboratively for a common goal: promoting equity for LGBT persons,” Tomaszewski said.