Dispatches from the International AIDS Conference: Day 7
Day 7: Friday, August 8, 2008
What Will 2010's Conference Bring?
The conference formally ends this afternoon. Today is mostly oral summary reports of all the "tracks" (e.g. prevention, treatment, youth, etc.) and a short closing session. Tariq (my husband) and I left crazy-beautiful Mexico City this morning to spend a few days in a little village on the Pacific coast before heading back to the U.S.
PHOTO (above): Mexico City Z*colo (Playa de la Constitución), second largest public plaza in the world behind Red Square in Moscow; Catedral Metropolitana in background
PHOTO (above): Banderas Bay - bed view
I am realizing I was remiss in not including Web links to some things that might be of interest. Here are three that offer a lot from this week:
XVII International AIDS Conference
Includes detailed conference agenda and variety of information; searchable.
Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
Provides Podcasts, Webcasts and transcripts of various sessions, "newsmaker" interviews and various other types of coverage (e.g. daily news roundup, Jon Cohen's daily diary). Some of the sessions included HIV-positive leaders from various regions of the world, who carried important messages.
Offers a great variety of conference coverage – from technical reports of key information to interviews with conference delegates and local community members in the Global Village. Probably the most diverse coverage available.
I don't know what will come of what took place at this conference. By the next one in 2010, will more than one-third of people who need treatment in the developing world be receiving it? Will more than 10 percent of people in these regions have access to an HIV test? Will the United States have a leader who finally demands a national AIDS strategy, calls for evidence-based prevention instead of the devastating abstinence-only approach, and brings family planning – an essential component of any successful healthcare strategy – to international and domestic AIDS funding?
I am sometimes pessimistic about the impact of meetings. It is, after all, people sitting around talking and, to quote that old protest march expression, what we need is "less talk, more walk."
At the same time, I appreciate there is no way to discern how an event like this affects the attitude or work of any one person who attended. For example, I have found it invigorating to be amidst my comrades, people living openly with HIV/AIDS, from all over the world.
It is easy to feel alone in this struggle. My fellow activists and I are pushing back against a daunting tide of stigma and shame, sickness and death, disregard and disrespect. I am reminded here, though, that strength really is in numbers and everything is more possible when we stand up – and speak out - together.