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XV International AIDS ConferencePhoto Journal

AIDS is, first and foremost, a human story. But it's easy to lose sight of this amidst the constant talk about CD4 counts, viral loads, HIV prevalence estimates and the latest research on new antiretrovirals. As The Body's Editorial Director attended the XV International AIDS Conference, she compiled this photo journal of the places she went and people she met.

With more than 8,500 presentations and dozens of events occuring throughout the week, this photographic record comprises only a fraction of what actually took place at the world's largest HIV/AIDS meeting. Hopefully, though, it can help convey a sense of what it was like to attend this conference. AIDS 2004 had somewhat of a circus atmosphere, with elephants marching outside the conference center in the humid heat and sex workers performing pole dancing in the hallways (to an often wide-eyed audience of staid researchers and clinicians). Thrown into this mix was the chasm that was clearly visible between the rich and poor nations: Delegates from the developed nations could often be seen waiting on long lines at Starbucks stands within the conference center, purchasing fancy coffees for prices that would be considered a small fortune to many of the delegates from Africa, Asia and South America. And then there were the protestors' daily marches through the conference hallways. It was a dizzying few days, and it will take a while to process and figure out if the pomp, expense and effort of this conference will all be worth it. In the end, the publicity from the conference that rang around the world was the best consequence as newspapers were compelled to mention HIV, if only for these few days.