Dear APHA members, partners and friends,

It’s my great pleasure to welcome you and thousands of your fellow public health colleagues and supporters to our first virtual APHA Annual Meeting and Expo.

Georges BenjaminThis year — which marks our 148th yearly meeting and our second during a pandemic — we’re rallying around a theme of “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Preventing Violence.” The theme is especially — and unfortunately — timely, with recent statistics showing significant increases in gun-related homicides and suicides in the U.S.

But as public health professionals, we also know violence and its many long-term consequences are not only preventable, but often rooted in social conditions and environments that are entirely within our control to change and shape. We just need the evidence, resources and will to make such interventions a reality.

Those ideas will weave their way throughout this year’s many theme-related sessions, which will cover a broad spectrum of research and perspectives on violence prevention. On Monday, Oct. 26, for example, a session on the “Epidemiology of Intimate Partner Violence” will explore risk factors for domestic violence and its relationship to racial discrimination and public policies such as abortion access. On Tuesday, Oct. 27, a session on “Structural Violence and Youth Survival: Changing the Narrative Regarding Violence Affecting Urban, Black Youth” will explore the role of social justice in violence prevention; and on Wednesday, Oct. 28, a session on “Early Childhood Trauma: Interrupting the Cycle of Violence” will highlight ways to build resilience against the effects of violence and will feature remarks from Nadine Burke Harris, the first surgeon general for the state of California.

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic will also be a major topic during this year’s Annual Meeting, with sessions running the gamut from the role of misinformation and structural racism in the virus’ spread to its implications for health issues such as suicide, substance abuse and worker safety. And beyond violence and COVID-19, the meeting’s hundreds of scientific sessions will still cover topics across the public health discipline, from nutrition and physical activity to tobacco control to the best ways to engage underserved communities in health improvement plans.

Visit our online program today to browse all of this year’s scientific sessions and events and make a plan for your Annual Meeting experience. And while we may be gathering virtually this year, there will still be plenty of opportunities to network, socialize and engage with fellow meeting attendees and presenters — check out our networking and engagement activities here.

No doubt, this year’s APHA Annual Meeting will be a different experience from years past. But our focus and determination are the same — to create the healthiest nation and leave no community behind. Online or in person, we must keep moving forward together.

I can’t wait to see you at APHA 2020!

In solidarity and good health,
Georges C. Benjamin, MD
Executive Director
APHA

P.S. If you haven’t yet, consider donating to our annual Help Us Help Them campaign, which benefits a service organization in the Annual Meeting’s host city. While APHA 2020 is virtual, we still want to give back to San Francisco, the community we were supposed to gather in. This year’s campaign supports the Robby Poblete Foundation, a Bay Area nonprofit that uses art and vocational programs to help prevent gun violence. Donations can be made via your Annual Meeting registration form. If you’ve already registered, you can log back into your record to make a contribution.

P.P.S. I know we’re in the middle of a heated election with much on the line, but please remember that APHA is a 501c3 nonprofit, so we must remain nonpartisan and we do not endorse candidates. However, I encourage everyone to make a plan to safely exercise your right to vote — and vote early if you can! Visit HealthyVoting.org, an initiative co-launched by APHA, for tips.