The 2023 U.S. Conference on HIV/AIDS (USCHA) ended September 9 in Washington, DC. But nearly a week later, many of us 4,000 attendees are still unpacking—literally and figuratively. Spearheaded by NMAC and held in a different city each year, the HIV conference is an epic immersive experience spanning five days (and nights) and loaded with education, entertainment, inspiration and emotion. It’s a lot.

To give you sampling of the conference offerings, we rounded up a selection of social media posts. You can find many more by searching #2023USCHA.  

The theme of this year’s event—“A Love Letter to Black Women”—was fully evident in each day’s lunchtime plenaries, events that brought all attendees together in a massive dining hall for food, networking and presentations that ranged from inspiring speeches to spoken word poetry, gospel choirs, theatrical monologues and more.

Representative Maxine Waters (D–Calif.) headlined the opening plenary, asking “Are you ready for this fight?” The next day, at Gilead Sciences’ plenary “In Her We Trust: She Is Glorious,” original Dreamgirls and Abbott Elementary star Sheryl Lee Ralph had the audience shouting Amen with her call to empower and uplift Black women. The praising only grew louder during a rousing show by gospel great Yolanda Davis.

That evening, “In Her We Trust” continued with a special event at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, where attendees had a chance to take in a selection of the galleries. Among the works and artifacts by cultural greats such as Kehinde Wiley and Tina Turner, we spotted photographs by activist Lola Flash, recently spotlighted in POZ. The evening’s highlight had to be a panel disccussion with civil rights icon Ruby Bridges, who became worldvfamous in 1960 when, at age 6, despite a wall of hateful protesters, she was one of the first Black children to attend a formerly all-white public school in Louisiana.

Friday’s plenary, sponsored by ViiV Healthcare, delivered a three-act presentation, “The S Salon: Desire, Pleasure & Intimacy,” that included poet Safia Elhillo, comedian Amanda Seales and larger-than-life personality TS Madison.

Saturday’s closing plenary panel spotlighted Black women working in federal programs aimed at ending the HIV epidemic. You can read more about that—and watch a video discussion—here on’s POZ blog.

Each morning and afternoon, USCHA attendees had their pick of workshops and lectures to attend. One included a screening of the short film Unexpected, about Masonia Traylor and Ciarra Covin, who formed an underground network of women helping Black mothers cope with and survive an HIV diagnosis in the rural South. (It’s produced by Sheryl Lee Ralph and has been playing the festival circuit; keep an eye out for wide release and screenings soon.)

Amid all this excitement, everyone made time to peruse panels of the AIDS Quilt, an installation highlighting Black women as champions of change and poster presentations of new research.

Attendees also networked among the two exhibitor halls packed with booths representing community and governmental organizations, pharmaceutical companies and much more. Among them were Team Friendly, The Reunion Project, AIDSVu, My Brother’s Keepr, U=U plus, AIDS United, The Well Project, Gilead, ViiV, Merck, Janssen, CVS special pharmacies, Mistr, NASTAD, OraSure, POZ magazine (of course) and many more.

With 2023 USCHA now in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look ahead. Mark your calendars now for the 2024 event, slated for September 12 to 15 in New Orleans. Hopefully, we’ll be fully unpacked before then.