It’s summertime in the capital of The Netherlands, Amsterdam. The sun is shining bright and the weather is warm, cyclists, trekkers are all enjoying the welcoming embrace of the bright weather and cool breeze that brushes the face as one walks across the streets with clear demarcations for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. Thousands from all over the world have been arriving to participate in the 22nd International AIDS Conference.
Pre-conference events have already started. Registeration has also began as delegates are trooping to the RAI Conference Centre to complete registeration formalities and take their badges and conference bags.
Delegates from every corner of the earth are trooping to the conference – some 15,000 of them are arriving in Amsterdam for what looks like a united front to tackle the HIV menace that once ravaged communities of the world, stalking countries, cities, villages and families with pain, agony and death.
Scientists, researchers, policymakers, advocates and activists are showing up to play their roles in unison. They will share research findings, debate issues, share experiences and suggest the way forward in dealing a blow to the disease, as many look forward to a time when HIV will be no more
Following progress in research and understanding of the nature of the disease, so many people are able to live full active lives while having the virus. The relentless efforts to overcome HIV are growing and this year’s conference in Amsterdam is likely to make that point very strongly. The HIV community looks stronger and united than ever with the recent appointment of Kevin Osborne, the first person openly living with HIV as the Executive Director of the International AIDS Society (IAS).
By taking the fight to the disease, the HIV community has improved strategy in combating mother-to-child transmission, enhanced the development, production and distribution of antiretroviral drugs to those who need it, mostly free.
The community is working with stakeholders to address one of the major challenges to managing the disease, stigmatization – which has been described as deadlier than the disease itself.
As the conference officially opens on Monday July 23, it will be five days of deliberations and hopefully resolutions in the global efforts to continue to fight HIV and look forward to winning.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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