God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensée of a Catholic priest

22.07.2010 and more contemplations on the World AIDS Conference in Vienna

Discussion this morning with several people about our experience with the World AIDS Conference this year. The quality of the presentations was one discussion point. It came to mind a presentation about research work with commercial sex workers in an African country. The well-funded research’s conclusion was that a. there must be more research and b. that commercial sex workers are in need of special interventions.
Well, I am sure I would come to this conclusions without any research study – lots of money saved for more deserving purposes. Follow up questions: Who is monitoring and evaluation the proposals and giving the go-ahead for such research? Or was the presentation itself the week point?  General question: Is there somehow not the self inventing and containing wheel of research out of research for the purpose of research and justifying the own existence in this field?

Some presentations I heard have not really changed over the years: the same countries, the same sort of overflowing Power Point presentations, squeezing as many words as possible on one slide – have there be no developments in these countries/fields/outreach programmes?

It was good to see and hear about the GUS countries and problems in Russian speaking countries – for contents, but also for the sole purpose to bring new faces and a new dynamic to the conference.

Once again the lack of the engagement of official churches which are doing a big part of the work in this field was noticable. Additional the prayer room /room of silence was – and I apologise already here if I step on someones toes – a disgrace in itself. I was shocked to see it.

But after all this criticism also positive aspects of the conference: One always learns something, the exchange with people around the world, the sideline sessions, one sometimes bumps into going through the Global Village – excellent presentations I have seen and heard there . The dedication of the people standing  next to their poster presentations to answer questions or standing for hours in their respective boot to engage with the visitors – they all have my respect.
Some presentations have been standing – and one can learn that even academics are indeed able to present a complicated issue in a way that at least a non medical person gets the picture, paired with some anecdotes to make you smile in between.
My experience of the registration process was great – recalling the long queues of Toronto….

I have been reminded once again how the pandemic has changed the world and how brave men and women, infected and affected fight it with affection and with so much empathy for those who have no voice in this world.

Encouraging research (one would always hope for more), optimism paired with realism – setting goals and going home with the dream and the will to work hard to achieve it. At the end the experience at such a big conference is always mixed, but: I was privileged to be here, I am grateful for all the experience and I already have an idea about 2012 in Washington.

Which means in conclusion: The conference has still a meaning for me, but we have to streamline and look out, the we watch out to use our financial resources meaningful and that “politics” do not interfere with the judgement of who is able to present and share experience and knowledge.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, Medical and Research, Politics and Society, , , , ,

HIV, AIDS and HOPE – thoughts of a Catholic priest

Being a Roman - Catholic priest and working in the fields of HIV and AIDS in Africa is often a challenge. Living in Africa has also its challenges. On the other hand I feel very much blessed having all the three. So you will find stories and reflections about my work, about the church, South Africa and Africa and essential information and developments in the field of HIV and AIDS. And in between personal stories and thoughts. You are most welcome to leave a comment or to get in touch with me - blogs - "thinking loud" so to speak is a ways of communication and exchange of ideas.

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