Ready. Steady, GO… the last ‘blog’ as the conference begins
As the conference is now upon us, this is the last in my blog series for ICASO to help you prepare for the event.
As I said in my first blog of this series, it is a great privilege to have been asked by ICASO to write these blogs leading up to AIDS 2018. I hoped to give you some tips and tricks of how to make the best of the conference and your time in Amsterdam. In some small ways I hope I have done so.
As this is my last blog i– and relying upon the indulgence of ICASO who asked me to do this series – this one is perhaps a little self-indulgent. It is a review of the previous blogs, a roundup of what is important to me and what I am going to be doing at this conference (in part) and some tips for first time attendees.
Reviewing the previous blogs
They are all available in order of posting by clicking on http://icaso.org/julian-hows/ and scrolling down. As I re-read them, it is obvious that though I have included as much as I can – there are things probably that I should have put in that I did not – or just did not find out about in time to include. However, I make no apologies. It is the nature of the exhilarating, exciting, packed programme of the AIDS conferences that you cannot cover everything – and indeed any selection will be a ‘snap-shot ‘at best.
For first time attendees
DO NOT let the conference overwhelm you by the sheer size, by all the things that are possible and do not try to do too much – and end up doing nothing. Plan your programme carefully. Pick the sessions, events, booths you want to attend, and leave space to recuperate, just hang out and network – maintain a balance. An old conference colleague once advised me to spend one hour a day sitting at a coffee stall in the conference and ask each person who sat near them who they were, why they were here, and what interested them; and letting the person recommend a session or event to him. He said that in this way he got more information, made more contacts, and discovered more ‘new’ things than sitting in a dozen sessions. And that is an object lesson in something else the conference can provide – getting outside your comfort zone. This is a strategy I recommend to you. My background is in human rights, community activism, and the PLHIV movement. But in each conference, I pick a ‘hard science’ session or event. It broadens my knowledge and has allowed me to appreciate the dedication and of those working in other disciplines and areas of the response.
Random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty
I have written in a previous blog about protest at the conferences – and protest is great and fine. But, and I say this as someone who has been demonstrating and agitating for most of my life from the tender age of 16. I try and attack the issue not the person; an approach I commend to you for the enemy is the virus – almost always not the person at the conference – however misguided and wrong you think they are, very rarely if ever are they evil. And yes, for those who were wondering I was correctly tweeted and quoted when I said in a major report back session at AIDS 2016 that the 90 90 90 targets are like wearing a fur coat with no panties, WHERE IS THE FUNDING! Which neatly brings me on to what I am doing at the conference that might also interest you:
90-90-90 and how do we get there?
Together with an old colleague from GNP+ (Kevin Moody) we are running two sessions on the community’s role in quality of life of people living with HIV at AIDS 2018. Entitled ‘In search of the 4th 90; why do we care?’ The overarching goals of these sessions is to explore the what quality of life means to people living with HIV and to strategize on how to get there.
• Wednesday 25 July, 14:30 – 17:00 (in session rooms G104-105) details here
• Thursday 26 July, 13:00 – 14:30 in the Global Village (room 2) details here
I hope to see some of you at one of the sessions. You can find out more about this initiative at https://www.hivqualityoflife.org/
Other than that, I will be attending every session that I have recommended or posted about – but wait, sometimes ‘less is indeed more’ and I too will be pacing myself.
Some breaking last-minute news – or maybe I have only just seen it!
The Sex Worker Networking Zone will operate
Monday 23rd – Friday 27th July,
Booth 511 in the Global Village
Daily sessions at 10:00, 14:00 and 16:00
‘The Sex Worker Networking Zone is a daily programme of events showcasing sex worker-led projects from around the world.’
For the complete programme go here
GNP+ has continued the fine tradition (well I would say that as I started it !) of producing a complete road map to the conference including posters of interest .
GNP+ knows what it takes to navigate AIDS2018. The Roadmap is there to support people living with HIV to choose among the hundreds of sessions..
What makes the GNP+ roadmap unique is that is also highlights selected posters that may be of interest.
The sessions, satellites and workshops are organized according to date and time. You can download and print the roadmap here. It will not be available in print .
Have a great conference if you are going to be in Amsterdam. If you see me say hi! If you are not attending, but have been following my blog then use the links in this blog to connect and keep informed.
And for a final trip down memory lane, the conference organisers have unearthed some clips from 1992 – the last time the conference was in Amsterdam. For me they are compelling viewing – bringing back a time before therapy, when we were just starting to truly ensure that community involvement and empowerment, human rights, partnerships and alliance with scientists, activists, governments, all needed to be embedded in the response. Previews of all the clips can be seen by clicking here and scrolling down
The clips also remind me of how some things stay the same and the journey is not over.