Personally one of the greatest outcomes from the conference was the people that I’ve met. Many advocates and activists that I’ve followed on social media for many years became real people to embrace, and I met their friends, their colleagues, their projects and their stories. It was refreshing to attend a conference and not to be sold to! Attendee wanted to genuinely engage with each other, exhibitors wanted to share, storytelling was rife and so very powerful.
I am worried though. I kept coming back to the clear lack of mental health support available to my fellow peers, activists and advocates. No one was talking about the pressure, the anger or the wellbeing of the activists and advocates, the toll that can take on people, in their individual communities or throughout the conference as a whole. Self care was wholly lacking. This concerns me. I’ve seen in many a time here in the UK, it needs talking about. It needs addressing.
On our last night in Durban I was invited to have dinner with Mark King, the very gent whose ‘Top 16 Advocates to Watch in 2016‘ list I’m sure, in no small measure accounted for the scholarship I was given to attend the conference. Around the table of guests, there were amazing women from USA, Mexico and Nigeria all individually achieving masses in their communities, regionally, nationally and globally – all equally enthused and exhausted from a full on week on the conference circuit! The conversations were abundant and enlightening and it really was the most perfect evening to end the week on and I can’t wait to see many of those faces again in Amsterdam 2018!
Read more from my time at AIDS2016 here: