The Washington Post

AIDS Conference draws celebrities to Washington

Bill Gates, Sharon Stone and Elton John are among the big names headed to Washington for the 19th International AIDS Conference. (Getty Images; Associated Press; Getty Images)

Expect some high-wattage celebvocacy next week in D.C. at the 19th International AIDS Conference: It’s the first time in two decades that the global gathering is being held in the United States, and A-listers are turning out in droves.

No surprise, really: The disease galvanized the Hollywood community a quarter-century ago, inspiring many stars to become more active in politics and charity, a trend that’s percolated to a variety of other issues today. The late Elizabeth Taylor was a pioneer, raising millions for HIV/AIDS (and willing a portion of her $115 million jewelry collection to the cause), and encouraging other celebs to lend their names.

Elizabeth Taylor at an amFar benefit partyin 2003. (Pascal Guyot/Getty Images)

So who’s coming to town? Sharon Stone is set to kick off the parties Friday with a benefit at the Georgetown Kiehl’s shop, then will join a crowded red carpet — Bill Gates, Alicia Keys, Annie Lennox, Anderson Cooper, Sean Penn, Herbie Hancock, Jessye Norman, Barbara Bush, John Corbett, Tyson Beckfor d — at the Kennedy Center for Saturday’s Foundation for AIDS Research dinner and a UNAIDS concert. Tavis Smiley, Wyclef Jean and Margaret Cho are slated for Sunday’s “Keep the Promise” march.

And that’s before all the speeches, panels and other forums during the six-day conference with the likes of Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Laura Bush and Whoopi Goldberg. Danny Glover and Vanessa Williams will represent the Black AIDS Institute; Elton John is appearing with Nancy Pelosi at the Syringe Access Fund event, and Debra Messing teams up with Norway’s Crown Princess Mette-Marit to honor leaders in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Expect plenty of limo lock downtown— most of the action will be at the convention center, where more than 20,000 people from around the world are expected.

Related: International AIDS Conference will have a big footprint in host city D.C. next week, 7/18/12

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