Friday, 26 August 2016

International AIDS Conference 2016: Summary

Thank you for your interest in reading about this conference. I hope you enjoyed the flavour of this conference which I hope I have successfully managed to give you, even if you only had time to read this summary. I have been brief about each of the session I attended. You can see the whole presentation and slides from these sessions at the following link as they are updated. There were many presentations so of course you can look at any which pique your interest. 

AIDSConference2016/presentations, slides etc

The 'Solidaritree' in the Global Village. I hung a ribbon on it with the web address for The Rutger Hauer Starfish Association.

I really learned alot about the global HIV landscape and the science involved and how these scientists work. One really frustrating and sad thing is that no matter what, the outcome in most studies was the same. That is, that most patients rebound. Much can be learned from these studies and dedicated scientists keep on going as they always have. I had never given it any thought before but I learned that the virus is found in tissues too, not just bodily fluids. Stands to reason. I learned that HIV can be detected for up to 12 hours post mortem. Also I now know that most drugs to treat HIV, come from India. I am really happy to also know that there are researchers out there looking at the Berlin Patient Timothy Brown, and looking for a functional cure based upon his case and treatment. Crossing all fingers for that.
The highlights for me were Mondays plenary session celebrating Nelson Mandela's legacy, with a whole diverse range of speakers including Charlize Theron and Desmond Tutu. Also Wednesdays special session with Bill Gates talking about how to accelerate the decline of AIDS in sub-saharan Africa really was special. As I have heard before at this conference, and thus learned, 2 million people are infected every year. It was also good to hear about how exposure affects infants and children and the impact of HIV on women and children. Starfish would be interested in that too. Lastly, it was interesting and enlightening to hear about reporting the news in the media from the journalists point of view. Here is a great article in The Guardian:

Throughout the conference there was talk of ending the HIV epidemic by 2030. Whilst I agree that this would be wonderful, I think that it isn't that realistic, perhaps abit too ambitious. I think this is a dream rather than a goal but it is good to have dreams right? Something else discussed throughout was 90-90-90. That is, 90% of people diagnosed with HIV will be treated, and of those 90% treated, 90% will have a fully supressed viral load by 2020. I am optimistic about thids but is it also ambitious? What do you think?
It was great to meet such a diverse group of people, like minded researchers and activists, HIV positive and transgender people. Many kinds of people who have been touched by or care about the HIV situation on a global scale. Thank you to everyone involved for making this event possible. Thanks to Rolande of AIDSfreeAfrica for spending the week with me and to volunteer Katie from Botswana for being a huge help.  I'm so glad I made it, thank you Durban.

I hope this is the start of a beautiful friendship for me with the International AIDS Conference and I especially look forward to the next one in 2018 as it is in my favourite city of Amsterdam.

Can I hope to see you there?  I look forward to this immensely and it will be exciting to be among dutch researchers.

Thank you all so much for reading. Love Sarah xxx P.S Please be sure to check back. I will update as I see the sessions I went to and other special ones I didn't get to attend.

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