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Fontainebleau in Miami Beach not ready, National Minority AIDS Council switches conference to Fort Lauderdale Convention Center

Fontainebleau hotel postpones reopening by five weeks

News release:

Britto August 12, 2008 – Washington, DC – After 18 months of assurances by the Fontainebleau that its renovations would be completed by this coming September, the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) has learned that the hotel will not be ready in time to accommodate the 2008 United States Conference on AIDS (USCA). Fortunately, an alternative venue for USCA has been secured: the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center, in Fort Lauderdale, FL, which is located only twenty (20) miles north of Miami, FL. In addition, the meeting will take place on the exact same dates September 18-21, 2008.

"We apologize for this change and any related confusion," says NMAC Executive Director, Paul Kawata. "We will do our best to make this transition as seamless as possible. That said, we hope our friends and colleagues will give us chance, and attend the meeting."

It is important for members of AIDS community to meet in order to talk strategically with government officials and each other about the recent article that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that re-evaluation of its U.S. HIV incidence data indicated that over 55,500 new HIV cases occurred each year from 2003-2006, with 56,300 cases in 2006 alone. To facilitate this discussion, the CDC will be holding a special "town hall" during USCA about the JAMA article and the collective next steps.

Because the meeting has been moved to the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center, four hotels have been identified that will provide over 1,400 sleeping rooms a night to cover current reservations. All of these rooms are available at the same or lower rates as those offered by the Fontainebleau; government employees will be able to obtain their rooms at the government rate. The four conference hotels are: Fort Lauderdale Grande Hotel (one block away); Hyatt Regency Pier 66 (0.5 mile away); Embassy Suites (0.4 mile away); and Harbor Beach Marriott (1.5 miles away). All of these hotels offer free shuttle service to and from the Convention Center.

USCA attendees who booked their hotel accommodations at one of the USCA hotels in Miami are advised not to cancel their reservations. NMAC will work with the Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors' Bureau to automatically transfer all existing hotel reservations to one of the above Fort Lauderdale hotels through their online web-based system. Those who provided an e-mail address upon booking will receive an e-mail informing them of their new hotel and confirmation number. Attendees will have the ability to cancel the reservation or move it to another hotel (if available) online.

Attendees who did not provide an e-mail address when making their reservation will receive a letter in the mail detailing their new hotel and confirmation number. Attendees are also advised not to contact the hotels until after their confirmation e-mail or letter has been received.

The attendees who already have booked their airline ticket to Miami International Airport (MIA) do not need to change their reservation. NMAC is working with the Convention Center and Visitors Bureau to provide attendees discounted shuttle transportation from the Miami International Airport to USCA hotels in Fort Lauderdale, FL. An e-mail will be sent as soon as details about this service are available.

For those who do wish to change their plane ticket to fly into the Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL), NMAC will reimburse up to $100 for any change fee. Attendees should bring their receipt for the change fee to the conference and will be reimbursed onsite with a $100 American Express Traveler's Check.

Faculty members conducting a workshop, roundtable, seminar or institute will have no change in their schedule – all sessions will happen at the exact same time and date. New room name/numbers will be distributed by the first week in September. Faculty members who do not what to present their session in Fort Lauderdale should contact NMAC's Conferences and Meeting Services Division at (202) 483-6622 or conferences@nmac.org as soon as possible, so that their session may be removed from the 2008 USCA program book.

Attendees who choose to rent a car from MIA are eligible to receive a $20 gas card to cover the additional mileage to Fort Lauderdale. Only one gas card per rental car will be provided, and proof of auto rental must be brought to registration to receive the card. Gas cards for volunteers working with the 2008 USCA Host Committee will be provided by the Host Committee itself.

"We are still in a bit of shock due to all these changes; but believe that we have put together a sound solution," says Kawata. "After personally visiting the convention center and the other hotels, please know they are all up to NMAC's standards. We hope this will be a great meeting. Again, we are so sorry about the last minute change and any confusion it may cause you and your organization."

Questions and concerns may be directed to Paul Kawata at pkawata@nmac.org.

# # #

About USCA
Since 1997, USCA, the largest annual HIV/AIDS meeting in the United States, has strengthened the domestic community-based response to HIV/AIDS by bringing together professionals from across the country to learn new skills and build partnerships and collaborations.

The conference's extensive selection of over 200 institutes, seminars, workshops and roundtables sessions addressing every aspect of the AIDS epidemic – from nutrition and treatment to prevention and international issues – enables participants to customize their training and networking experiences according to their unique professional needs. To learn more about USCA, visit: www.2008USCA.org; call: (202) 483-6622; or e-mail: conferences@nmac.org.

About NMAC
The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) was founded in 1987 to develop leadership within communities of color to address challenges of HIV/AIDS.

NMAC has responded to the needs of communities of color by developing programs enhancing the skills necessary to confront this health crisis, including a public policy education program; national and regional training conferences; treatment and research programs and trainings; numerous publications and a website: www.nmac.org. The agency also serves an association of AIDS service organizations, F/CBOs, hospitals, clinics, health departments and other groups assisting people and families living with and affected by the AIDS epidemic. NMAC's advocacy efforts are funded through private funders and donors only.

USCA attendees who booked their hotel accommodations at one of the USCA hotels in Miami are advised not to cancel their reservations.

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