Earlier this year I applied for, and was honoured to accept, a full scholarship to enable me to attend the International AIDS Society’s biannual 21st international AIDS Conference, hosted by South Africa in Durban. With flights, hotel and per diem allowance provided I grabbed the opportunity. The BF also grabbed the opportunity to join me there and we got booked onto the same flight! Turns out he makes a great PA – thanks SP!
Before we left I’d poured over the conference schedule and become quite overwhelmed with the breath of content, sessions, events and talks I could attend. The handy mobile app helped me star and prioritise the sessions that I really wanted to be at – at several time slots there were 3 or 4 concurrent sessions so I had to prioritise and choose carefully where to spend my time. The venue was HUGE – equivalent to the whole of NEC I would guess with 3 main areas; the main conference halls, the exhibition hall (mainly pharma) and then the Global Village, bursting with grassroots organisations from all around the world showcasing their responses to HIV in their communities. Interestingly to note – the general public can visit the exhibition hall and the Global Village – you do not need a delegate pass to access these! This was news to us upon our arrival and meant that the BF could see and access so much more from the conference than we ever imagined. There were many many sessions and workshops every day in the Global Village, all available to the general public. So anyone wanting to attend AIDS2018 in Amsterdam – do it – the general public can access loads of the conference!
I felt distinctly different ‘vibes’ from the three areas of the conference; the main conference rooms were clinical, straight laced and had an ‘ivory tower’ feel often devoid of actual positive people on their panels, the exhibition had the £££ of the pharmaceuticals and their swish exhibition stands and collateral to boot, juxtaposed with the Global Village, with their passion, their stories and their shoestring musings to convey on a global platform their amazing work and needs.
I’ve pick out a handful of my musings from a selection of the sessions I went to in both the main venue and the Global Village. I’ve notes from so many more to still formulate into something more cohesive.