Thursday, July 29, 2010

Final Notes From Vienna: The Magic of the Global Village, and the Destiny of Change

Via The Body, by Carole Treston

My intention on my last day in Vienna was to stop in the Global Village for an hour and then cut out and do some sightseeing. Well ... I stayed there four hours and saw a lot. It's great to go to an international AIDS conference -- the energy, the diversity, the solidarity and the possibilities and evidence for change are awesome and the Global Village embodies that. It is a large exhibit hall, adjoining the conference, where people with HIV, affected communities, NGOs, activists and health agencies interact with scientists, physicians, government and civil leaders. It is a place to learn and for many to express themselves, to interact with opinion leaders in a more comfortable space, or there are places to just chill out and catch up. It was great -- there were booths from NGOs from around the globe. (I learned it was free for non-profits -- there is no exhibitor fee -- hope that holds in the United States in 2012.) There were booths from Act-UP Paris to China Youth Network to the International Union of Sex Workers to Housing Works! There were dance performances by Youth ("stomp stomp clap clap -- HIV -- take responsibility") and art work and video showings and special sessions where plenary speakers met with small groups of people for in-depth discussions and spots where you could buy little handmade crafts (mostly from African NGOs) and a little place for tea. It went on and on. It's a space full of life and creativity and diversity.

I sat and watched a documentary The Lazarus Effect produced by HBO about patients in Zambia. First interviewed about their hopes and dreams before ARVs were available and then again when the film makers, Lance Bags and Spike Jonze returned two months later after ARVs. The changes were astounding. Not everyone survived and the stories are still heartbreaking -- but remarkable change happened. To see the video go to

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