Friday at 11:00 AM at the John A. Wilson Building, Mayor Vincent Gray will take part in a press conference announcing that D.C. will host the 2012 International AIDS Conference. “AIDS 2012 is expected to convene more than 25,000 delegates from nearly 200 countries, including more than 2,500 journalists,” according to the International AIDS Society.
Ironically, the press conference welcoming the world’s HIV/AIDS community to D.C. comes on the very day that PreventionWorks closes it doors, an outcome the mayor could have prevented. The Washington Post described the organization as “the leading provider of clean needles to drug addicts in the District to help stem the spread of AIDS… PreventionWorks has been distributing free needles for more than 12 years. It provides about one-third of the free needles in the city, distributing about 100,000 sterile syringes to 2,200 people last year.”
Unlike the city’s leaders, Damilola Smith Kayode, a senior at John F. Kennedy High School and intern at Housing Works, took action when she found out about PreventionWorks’ closure. She wrote in her piece in response to the closure: “If they close the leading provider of clean needles people will continue to use the infected needles not because they want to get this HIV virus and suffer for the rest of their lives, but because they are addicted and even if they wanted to stop at any given moment they could not.”
Smith-Kayode called on D.C.’s leaders to “open their eyes a little bit more and help the community… and help the people that are in need the most.”