The core of AIDS 2012: The Global Village

It has been said and proved time and again that AIDS is not a medical problem solely and have deep social and economic links, consequences and implications. Global Village, over the years, at AIDS conferences has been the platform of communities, activists and practitioners representing diversity and solidarity. The Global Village at XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) provided the space for participants from over 90 countries with over 120 booths and a wide range of activities and information. A clear testimony that Global Village is at the core of AIDS 2012.

Many before AIDS 2012 would have not known the severity of AIDS epidemic in the capital city of the US. It is noteworthy to mention that there was no registration required to walk into and participate in a range of activities taking place in the global village. However to participate in the AIDS 2012 formal conference, one needed a registration costing hundreds of US dollars. High prevalence rates and issues with people receiving Anti Retro Viral Treatment remain to be a major challenge for the capital of the country that is leading the fight against AIDS globally.

Mayor Gray of Washington DC promises a strong commitment on HIV prevention, treatment, support and care with announcements on paid leaves for the Government employees to get education on the virus and to get tested.  He shares the success of interventions in the form of no childbirth with HIV taking place in Washington DC since 2009. Activists groups, however, stood up in protest with the voices of “number don’t lie, governments do.”

Michele Sidibe, Executive Director of UNAIDS, at the opening of the Global Village recognized its importance adding that the forum is the “real heart” of the conference and provides the space for exchange of ideas. “The end of AIDS is not free, not expensive, but priceless, and to end it people’s connectivity and exchanges are crucial” said Sidibe.

Global Village has some very interesting sessions, networking zones and cultural events. The space also has some of the networks and organizations, concerns of which in the context of HIV are often ignored. The caregivers’ action network looking at the HIV and ageing scenario is one such place with a number interesting sessions and presentations. Similarly, the marketplace booths bring community based groups and organizations from around the world.  Exchange of thoughts with these groups is truly enriching.

The positive stories of progress made on reducing the pandemic are all around the conference. The Global Village, the consortium of action groups, deserves equal credit along with medical and research fraternity in the accomplishments achieved. Their role in the future will be vital too, let us say in the campaign of increasing the ART coverage to 15 million people from 8.75 million by 2015.

AIDS 2012 conference theme of turning the tide together recognizes people’s partnerships in one of the most challenging public health crisis of all times. I expect that the Global Village will be the most key player at AIDS conferences in helping turn the tide - it has always been in the history of AIDS pandemic.

Prakash Tyagi - CNS
(The author leads GRAVIS and writes extensively on HIV related issues)