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SERO Project and Southern AIDS Coalition to host Network Empowerment Pre-Conference

SERO-LOGOSERO Project and Southern AIDS Coalition to host Network Empowerment Pre-Conference

      Ft. Walton Beach, FL — The SERO Project and the Southern AIDS Coalition are co-hosting a Network Empowerment Pre-conference in advance of the annual Positive Living Conference held in Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., each September.

The Network Empowerment Pre-conference will bring together people living with HIV (PLHIV), particularly those presently involved with net-works of PLHIV, as well representatives from HIV service providers to explore ways to work together to create and strengthen networks of PLHIV.  Experienced network leaders will provide participants with the tools, information and inspiration to strengthen the voices of PLHIV in their home communities.

Sero and the Southern AIDS Coalition are especially interested in helping to launch and nurture networks representing key populations living with HIV, such as young gay and bisexual men, transgender women, women of color, sex workers, incarcerated people, immigrants, and people who use drugs.  “Networks enable people living with HIV to provide support to each other and present the opportunity for us to define our own agenda and priorities, select leadership to represent us and to speak with a unified voice,” said Tami Haught, Sero’s conference coordinator.

Nic Carlisle, executive di-rector of the Southern AIDS Coalition, said, “Strengthening the voices of PLHIV is a necessity if we are serious about improving health outcomes and reducing HIV transmission. PLHIV networks are as important today as they were in the earliest days of the epidemic. We urge our members to participate in the pre-conference and learn more about how they can help build this vital part of the community response to the epidemic.”

“This is the 18th Positive Living Conference and with more than 400 participants each year, it is one of, if not the, largest annual gatherings of PLHIV in the country.  Many of the attendees are active with local networks; it is our hope that the Network Empowerment Pre-conference will help strengthen those networks, as well as the relationships between PLHIV networks and HIV service providers,” said Butch McKay, executive director of OASIS, the Okaloosa AIDS Support & Information Services, which has sponsored the Positive Living Conference since its inception.

Goals of the Network Empowerment Project Pre-conference include:

  • Define and share perspectives on what PLHIV networks look like, how they function and the purposes they serve;
  • Review the history of networks and the role they have played in combating stigma, creating broader access to care, accelerating research and providing a voice for PLHIV:
  • Brainstorm ideas concerning how HIV and AIDS service providers can support PLHIV in creating and growing networks of PLHIV, including through existing CABs (client or community advisory boards);
  • Create state-specific strategies to create or strengthen networks in southern states
  • Identify follow-up strategies, including potential re-sources for support for statewide and local networks

Space and scholarship funding is limited, so an application process has been instituted to support the broadest and most representative participation in the pre-conference as possible.  Case management and others staff at service providers are encouraged to apply (whether HIV positive or not), as well as individuals living with HIV who are interested in strengthening or creating a network.

Requirements to apply for the pre-conference include:

  • Must be registered for an attending Positive Living Conference
  • Are available to fully participate on September 18, from 9 am to 4 pm
  • Priority will be given to applicants who apply in pairs; including one person from the staff of an HIV service organization and another person who is a client of that organization (both must  commit to attending to be considered for a scholarship )

Note that both breakfast and lunch will be provided on the day of the Pre-conference. A limited amount of support is available for those requiring assistance with their hotel expenses (double occupancy only).

For more information please contact Nic Carlisle (Southern AIDS Coalition) or Tami Haught (Sero Project) at: or (641) 715-4182 or (205) 918-8230. The application is also available on line at:,,

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