I came to the 2006 International AIDS Conference wearing many hats. In addition to writing for three online publications (this one, Time To Deliver, and AIDS Combat Zone) I'm also a CHAMP activist, an SGAC member, a USF Global Health student, a Peace Corps nominee, and a concerned global citizen. The driving force behind my participation in these causes has long been my concern over the impact of HIV in the developing world, particularly sub-Saharan Africa. That being the case, I came to the 2006 IAC with the hope of attending sessions that would better prepare me for my upcoming Peace Corps placement and subsequent career in global health, and also allow me to better communicate African issues to my blog audiences.
Even with the tremendous size of the conference, only a handful of sessions and workshops are dedicated to topics that can be applied to rural Africa. I've only been able to attend one so far, a very interesting workshop and discussion on incorporating traditional medicine into an HIV program. I hope to be able to attend several more like it before the conference is over, but I don't have nearly as many options as I had originally hoped.
The implied message is that Africa, despite being home to more than half of the world's people with HIV and AIDS, still isn't an important part of the global response to HIV. If the leaders of AIDS movements around the world are serious about reversing the spread of HIV in Africa, we are going to need to see more direct attention paid to the situation in Africa at global meetings such as this one. By bringing Africa out of the shadows of discussions about HIV, we can finally begin to reverse the African AIDS epidemic.