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Some 22 years ago, Ms. Scruggs went in for some routine pregnancy tests and got the devastating news that she was HIV positive. Her journey to health led her to meet countless women from all walks of life who struggled with HIV, often secretly or on their own.

The AIDS response may have originated around the needs of gay males, but it now needs to be expanded to include women of all kinds, Ms. Scruggs told the conference this week.

“I tell you we are at the table,” she said. “We’re here and we’re a force to be reckoned with. We’re changing the game.”