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Attending the International AIDS Conference

By Andrea Knittel
MD/PhD Candidate
University of Michigan Medical School
University of Michigan School of Public Health

President Bill ClintonIf you have ever attended an International AIDS Conference, you know how gigantic they are. Whether you were there as an activist, an implementer of public health programs, a social science researcher, a clinical investigator, or a basic scientist, you were probably overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of it all. AIDS 2010 in Vienna, Austria was my first experience, and it was incredible. According to the conference blog, there were over 19,000 people participating this year! Some of the highlights for me included:

  • Meeting other conference attendees in my hostel in Vienna and getting the chance to hear about social work with drug users in Taiwan and condom use in Kenya (their respective areas of expertise)
  • Conference sessions, posters, and satellite sessions (early morning and late evening sessions organized by outside groups, but vetted by the conference for relevance) about my particular area of interest, HIV and the criminal justice system (materials for these and other sessions are available here)
  • Speeches from Deputy President of South Africa, Kgalema Molanthe, Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and Bill Gates (check out available webcasts of all of these here)
  • Bill Gates answering the question I had submitted during the Q&A session following his talk
  • Impassioned speeches, moving protests, and incredible advocacy from the individuals and organizations participating in the Global Village – the part of the conference devoted to connecting HIV/AIDS advocates from around the globe (many of these are also available as webcasts)

Overall it was an amazing chance to see everything that’s developing in HIV/AIDS research in a concentrated setting. I got to hear about the CAPRISA 004 tenofovir microbicide gel trial results, and also participated in an inspiring march for human rights through the old city in Vienna. Though it initially seemed odd to try to mix advocacy, science, and program implementation into a single conference, I think I’m convinced that it creates a dynamic and exciting environment in which to learn. 

Leave a comment about your AIDS2010 experiences!

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