Saturday, 20 August 2016

International AIDS Conference 2016: Wednesday 20th July

Day 3. I am up at around 7.20am and notice I have a sizeable bite on my right wrist. Haven't noticed any fauna in our room so I wonder where it came from? I check myself in the shower but have no other bites. I have my yoghurt and a glass of orange juice. On my Mac I see that yesterdays amazing update from The Rutger Hauer Starfish Association. It is about an 11 year old AIDS activist who took the stage at the AIDS conference here in Durban 16 years ago. This update is a letter to him, powerful stuff. It makes my heart smile and puts a wide one on my face too. My breakfast is later, 8.50am leaving Rolande on my laptop. I enjoy breakfast and when Rolande arrives for hers she tells me the internet has crashed. Also she isn't going to go to the conference this morning as she wants to go sight seeing with Prakash. Back in our room I try to get internet working but can't. Once ready to leave for the ICC, I get  my R5 taxi fare ready in my hand and set off. It is stiffling hot but this makes me happy as its what I want from South Africa. I stroll along familiar territory but as I am alone I get lost! It has to be said my sense of direction...well I don't really have one. This being a different culture, things dont happen in the same way as they do in the UK. Without going into detail, I miss the first morning session of the conference and get a police ride to the venue. Feel abit silly but such is life. Arriving there at 11.45am I go to the Global Village and buy some beaded bracelets for family members and a red ribbon with South African flag badge for myself. All the handmade beaded jewelry etc is unique and absolutely gorgeous.
So my first session today is a special 1 hour event at 1-2pm in room1.

This was chaired by Dr Abdool-Karim and entitled 'Accelerating decline of HIV burden in sub-saharan Africa' by none other than Bill Gates.

He was very interesting to listen to and told us about a visit he paid to women in a clinic in Durban city centre yesterday. Respect Mr Gates. He told us that last year there were 2 million new infections and also again this year. A large number and sadly not the first time I've heard it this week.
I found myself sat next to a nice american chap who knows and loves the UK. He studied at Kings College London years ago. It was a good chat.    

I have lunch in a quieter area but still sit outside enjoying a cappuchino and a chicken and mayo sandwich. My tum had been rather sore during that last session. It is now after 3pm and I have sometime before the next session which begins at 4.30-6pm in room 6. I hang around outside this room and Rolande catches up with me. We go and sit on the second row as usual.  This session is called: Development and pricing of HIV medications and diagnostics chaired by Nathan Ford fron WHO, Switzerland.

The first speaker was SharonAnn Lynch from Doctors Without Borders, US. She spoke of 20 years worth of work and how these days 1st line treatment, a 3 combo, treatment costs $100. Treatment costs $44per person per year. Also there is failure in terms of Intellectual Property.

The second speaker was Anil Soni from Mylan in the US. He spoke about the industry perspective regarding HIV drugs and told us that most generic drugs come from India.

The third speaker was Dr Andrij Klepikov from the
Alliance for Public Health in the Ukraine.

He told us that only a startling 18% of HIV patients are on ARV's in the Ukraine.

The next speaker was a quick replacement who kindly volunteered to speak and had no slides. Clare Waterhouse from MSF, South Africa. She told us that the Department of health in South Africa is very active medicine/drug production. There are however issues with patent laws.

The final speaker was Nadila Pandor a south african MP. She said that $10 is equivalent to alot of rands and the need to speak in south african currency. Action must come from within South Africa.

Preparations are made to feed us at 6.30pm so we hang around and wait, having a drink in the meantime. A black coffee and a grape Fanta for me. Food is good e.g. salad bowls, burgers in buns, cheese wraps, pink cheesecake. A lovely lady turns up who happens to be an old friend Rolande knows from Cameroon. Half way through her PhD she says loves Cameroon and something she says sticks with me. She says ''You should love your country like you love your mother, wether rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy, big or small.'' We get the shuttle straight back to our lodge afterwards. I go to reception with my laptop trying to get connected to the internet. I go to bed at 10.30pm with a really bad tum and no internet, so not happy.

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