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AIDS 2010 for Dummies: An Entertaining Review

By Mark S. King

August 3, 2010

Mark S. King
If you require a clinical overview of AIDS 2010 in Vienna, or a review of the scientific data presented, boy are you reading the wrong blog. Please check out those articles on TheBody.com, aidsmap.com, or the AIDS 2010 organization itself.

I'm more of a Charles Kuralt type of correspondent. If he had been gay. And HIV positive. And umm, an addict in recovery. I think you get the idea. The goal of my video blogs from Vienna was to introduce you to the people and programs that energized the conference, and the individual stories of participants from far-flung regions of the world. Beyond the headlines, I wanted you to get a feeling for the sights, sounds, and pure energy of the event.

So here's a day-by-day breakdown of my video blog episodes, including the stories and interviews included in each. Each synopsis begins with a link to that day's video blog.

Michael Sidibe
THE MSM PRE-CONFERENCE. Before the official conference, a separate event was held to focus on (M)en who have (S)ex with (M)en. Believe it or not, a very small percentage of AIDS 2010 was devoted to MSM issues, making this day especially important. The video blog includes a chance interview with Michael Sidibe, director of UNAIDS (left) at the United Nations; a frank conversation about the role of HIV+ gay men in AIDS leadership, a chat with Jim Pickett from IRMA about research into rectal microbicides that might kill HIV without condoms (and a foretelling of the major news of AIDS 2010); an interview with a young gay activist from Africa; and a talk with presenters from Gay Men's Health Crisis about aging and HIV.

Wendy Kneer
AIDS 2010 DAY ONE: SEX, DRUGS, AND ANNIE LENNOX. The conference gets started with the roar of the registration area as your tour of the conference venue begins. Then it's an interview with Edwin Bernard about the criminalization of HIV, a hot topic at the conference because of its connection to human rights. After a quick stop to sample the Global Village, there's a free-wheeling conversation with Wendy Kneer of The Pleasure Project (right) about the female condom and its application for gay men. Next, we meet Methadone Man and friends, who explain the advantages of methadone therapy for heroin addicts.

Annie Lennox
In part two of the video blog from the first day, I get so close to Annie Lennox in the press room that I could thump her on the head, which I don't, because her profile as a global AIDS activist is growing by the minute. I do, however, get to question her during the main press conference about her "HIV POSITIVE" T-shirt. What a thrill. Then we're dashing on a Vienna subway to chat with women from the Congo before witnessing a hearty AIDS protest at the conference about the lack of funding to the Global AIDS Fund. Finally, we visit the World AIDS Campaign booth in the Global Village.

No Strings
AIDS 2010 DAY TWO: THE WISDOM OF YOUTH. This was the day I felt my age, having to contend with the energy and passion of very young activists from around the world. I met with leaders from the Vienna Youth Force, who held a press conference and then chatted with me about their commitment to HIV in their home countries, including Afghanistan, Lebanon, Germany and Canada. What a group! Then I was charmed by the talents of No Strings, a project that teaches HIV prevention and awareness to children through puppetry, and conducted an interview with one of the project organizers and her trusty felt friend.

Human rights march and rally through the streets of Vienna.
AIDS 2010 DAY THREE: HUMAN RIGHTS NOW! It was about time to show you more of Vienna, so I welcome you from a gorgeous plaza in the middle of town, before we're off to a reception with the organizers of AIDS 2012 in Washington, D.C., and a chat with National Minority AIDS Council Director Paul Kawata. Paul shares his highlights of the conference so far. Then one of the most moving events of the week: a human rights march and rally through the streets of Vienna, capped by a live performance by Annie Lennox.

Star Whores III
AIDS 2010 DAY FOUR: THE ART OF AIDS. Everywhere at AIDS 2010, people were expressing themselves artistically. But what were they trying to say? After whining a bit about the exhaustion of the busy conference, we explore the many vendors in the Global Village who are featuring artwork for and by people living with HIV/AIDS, and interview the artists. Then another conference highlight: a performance of "Star Whores III," (right) in which sex workers from around the world dance and spin and thrust their way closer (?) to human rights, if not personal dignity. After a look back at how artwork has been inspired by AIDS since the beginning of the pandemic, we visit a quilt project in the Global Village that is creating its own quilt from the work of conference attendees.

Frank
AIDS 2010: A FINAL LOOK BACK. How could I not feel fortunate in my own life and struggle with HIV, after meeting a man, Frank from Malawi (left), who makes his living giving rides on his bicycle? Who could not be deeply moved by the commitment of women from the Congo I met on a subway? My final blog introduces you to some of the 900 people at AIDS 2010 via scholarships, and the value of their voices being heard. Included: an interview with AIDS 2010 Chair Julio Montaner.

I wish to thank the editorial team at TheBody.com for assigning me the daunting, exciting task of covering the event, armed with my video camera and a curiosity to meet the real people doing the real work of AIDS around the world. I will never forget this experience.




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