Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Send an IRMA Advocate to Pittsburgh!

Will you chip in?

by Roy Wadia, IRMA Steering Committee Member

I was one of the lucky recipients of the first round of John Shaw scholarships, to attend Microbicides 2008 in New Delhi. I'd been with IRMA (the former IRMWG) for a while by that time, and while I'd done a lot of HIV/AIDS advocacy and communications work during my time at WHO China and then at the BC CDC in Canada, I'd never really focused on microbicide issues until my introduction to this amazing group.

The more I delved into the subject matter, which initially seemed rather arcane, the more I realized its importance in the global response to the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS and STI. By focusing on rectal microbicides, an issue linked directly to the need to focus on anal sex and its role in the HIV/AIDS picture -- and yet one that is still not widely discussed or given its due in both scientific and advocacy circles -- IRMA and its membership has helped fill a conspicuous gap, prodding scientists, researchers and advocates alike.

The Delhi conference itself was an amazing chance to network, to meet some extraordinary individuals, and to experience that rather wonderful and long-overdue moment when the health minister of India, the conference host country, mentioned rectal microbicides as a weapon in the (if you'll pardon the unfortunate pun) arsenal to fight HIV/AIDS. It brought home the work that IRMA had been doing, and renewed our sense of mission and purpose. For this scholarship recipient it vindicated the work that's being done by so many of us, and I can only say that the John Shaw scholarship (named after a fearless advocate and lovely man) needs to continue and to be strengthened in the years to come.


IRMA created the John Shaw Memorial Scholarship Fund in late 2007. John was a valued, enthusiastic and delightful member of the IRMA Steering Committee for over a year. He passed away Thursday, September 27, 2007. An LGBTQ/human rights advocate for over 20 years, John was also a Person With AIDS since at least 1990.

His fund helped rectal microbicide advocates attend the M2008 conference in New Delhi. Click here for a list of scholarship recipients.

TODAY - thanks to the generosity of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, we already have $3,000 in the Fund to help support IRMA advocates to attend the Microbicides 2010 conference this coming May in Pittsburgh.

We would like to bring that total to $10,000 - and here is where you come in. Will you chip in to help a rectal microbicide advocate attend M2010?

To donate to the John Shaw Memorial Scholarship fund, you may do so securely right here on this blog. In the upper left hand corner, there is a Chip In! box that allows you to donate whatever amount you would like via PayPal - securely.

The planners of M2010 are providing a large number of scholarships – so IRMA plans to fill in the gaps for rectal microbicide advocates who were unable to secure that support. We plan to release information on IRMA’s competitive scholarship process in December 2009. Microbicides 2010 will be announcing their scholarships on February 1 – and IRMA will announce recipients of our support by March 1, 2010. IRMA scholarship recipients are required to have applied for M2010 support to be considered.

Thank you for your support!

1 comment:

Inalegwu Frank Uji said...

Yes we all had a good time in India 2008 as IRMAs members and new advocates shared their experiences. 2010 is another meeting and the network will be strengthened if we can continue with this advocacy call.

Thanks for being there

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