Monday, 22 August 2016

International AIDS Conference 2016: Friday 22nd July

Day 5. The final day already. We are up early on our laptops. Rolande goes ahead of me for breakfast. I finish off my mango juice, shower, dress and pack. Still have bad tummy pains. I skip breakfast but go to reception and ask to print off flight details which I do. I hang around to see if any other delegates are going to the ICC today. Only one very nice man from the US. He phones a cab and turns out he works for a pharmaceutical company and offers me lots of advice including that I should visit the travel clinic in the conference centre. I wasn't aware there was one, but why wouldn't there be?  I find that the travel doctor is downstairs but only the nurse is there now. She gives me some prebiotics, some Imodium and something to hydrate me. I get a cup of hot water from the coffee shop for this and pay R5. I only have one session this morning before I need to jump on the coach to the airport. As I make my way to room 11 for the 11am-12.30pm session, I bump into my US cab companion and tell him I've seen the travel nurse. He sits down and get out his box of drugs and gives me some more imodium. I am thankful and bless him what a nice man. I sit at the back in room 11 because like many others I have my suitcase with me today. This session is called 'The Impact of HIV on Women, Adolescents and girls.'
 The first speaker here was Catherine Hankins from the Amsterdam Institute for Global health and development. 
She gives an overview of the disproportionate HIV impact on women and girls. 51% of all people living with HIV are women. Pregnant women and transgenders have the most HIV and women are more likely to go for an HIV test. There is a new infection every minute.

The next speaker was S. Sabangu from the Presidency Department of Women, South Africa. She spoke of the mechanisms needed for 14-25 year old girls to become empowered. They need skills and access to resources. Poverty also presents challenges.

The next speaker was Jessica Horn of the African Women's Development Fund, Ghana. HIV is gendered. I.E. There is patriachal power within Africa. HIV is just one problem women have to deal with. A funding crisis is also a problem for  womens right issues. Africa is still a young continent where most of the population is under 18 years old. It also has a rise in religious fundamentalism so there is a need to think realistically.
The last speaker was L Pakkala from UNICEF, Kenya.  
She spoke about the need for leadership.
During this event I got a text from Rolande letting me know she wants to meet up to say goodbye. I am glad because I do too. She walks me to the airport shuttle and we say our goodbyes and hug. Happy yet sad moments. Hopefully we will meet up again at the next AIDS conference if not before. A nice coach ride to the airport where Turkish Airlines get me home via Istanbul. Everything goes smoothly and I have 2 very similar breakfasts courtesy of TA. I arrive home in Manchester at 9.30am, so approx 10 minutes early. I will be seeing my local airport again in a matter of hours as I make my way to Dublin.
Thank you Durban for being a great host and thank you to all the speakers I had the privilege of listening to and thanks to all the wonderful people I had the pleasure of meeting and interacting with. I have now met plenty of transgenders and HIV positive people whereas before coming here I hadn't even though I live in Manchester, UK. It was so amazing to be amongst like-minded people and to be surrounded by HIV scientists. I really hope to attend the next International AIDS Conference which takes place in July 2018, Amsterdam, my favourite foreign city. I also hope you enjoyed seeing Durban and this conference through my lens. Thank you Sarah xxx

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