International AIDS Conference

Day 1: Exploring the Global Village, Women as a Key Population, and Attending the Opening Ceremony

So today was the first day of the official conference. We were up late last night from the Sex Workers Opera, so today we started a little later. We all traveled together to the conference and once we got there split up.  I walked around the global village and saw some of the very impressive booths. I also went to a talk concerning vertical transmission from a midwife’s perspective.

After I met up with Mary Catharine and Dr. Wessner to go to a talk about PEPFAR’s partnership for adolescent girls and young women. This talk was super informative and talked about how the most at risk population for HIV/AIDs is younger girls. An ambassador (Deborah Birx- whose daughter actually went to Davidson!!!) discussed PEPFAR’s goals, successes, and challenges with combating HIV in high risk populations throughout Africa.

Within that talk there was an amazing performance by Zathu, whose members are part of a program called Girl Effect. This program is focused on tackling social norms against platonic friendship between girls and boys.

This is a link to the Zanthu websight:https://www.girleffect.org/what-we-do/youth-brands/zathu/

And a great video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgptDGaulkE

Representatives who worked for DREAMS from Zimbabwe and Mozambique talked about their successes/challenges concerning combating HIV. And four wonderful women talked about what it is like first hand to be apart of the DREAMS program.

The last thing we did was attend the closing ceremony. It was beautiful and powerful and reminded me why I came. It illustrated the importance of fighting against the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. One of the quotes said during those couple hours has stuck with me and it was originally by Nelson Mandela

“Vision without action is just a dream, action without vision just passes the time, and vision with action can change the world.”

-Ally

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