Just a few months ago, the province of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, captured the world’s attention for unfortunate reasons: xenophobic attacks on foreign African nationals. This week, from June 9 to 12 in Durban, the same province is hosting the 7th South African AIDS conference, a gathering expected to bring together thousands of activists from within the country, the Southern African region and, indeed, the rest of the continent and the world, to “reflect, refocus, and renew” efforts in response to HIV and AIDS.
After the meeting, I meet Francinah, a 24-year-old district environmental health technician. In a soft voice, she tells me that as part of the QIL program, she worked with her own hospital and with the nearby Xhosa clinic to address the issue of waste management.
“J’mappelle Mompati. Comment t’appelles tu?”Overcoming my confusion at being greeted by a French-speaking man in Botswana, I smile, take his proffered hand and reply in my rusty, stilted French, “J’mappelle Naume...”Mompati is Mahalapye Hospital’s dynamic public relations officer. Now that he has my full attention, Mompati wastes no time in telling me about his work linking the hospital and the surrounding community through events and the media.
I am in Luanda, Angola right now, and what an interesting place. It is the most expensive city in the world: a can of coke costs $5, a car and driver for the day costs between $250-$300, and a basic hotel room with a view of people living in shacks below and cranes building more skyscrapers above is $380 (and it is difficult to find it for less).Luanda feels like Africa mixed with Latin American and European energy and music. The traffic is bumper to bumper. It is not possible to have more than two meetings in a day because it takes that long to get from one area to another in the city.
Monday at the International AIDS Society conference in Rome, an expanded session featured information on the HPTN 052 study, the Partners PrEP Study, and the Centers for Disease Control’s TDF2 study presented in a joint session titled Treatment Is Prevention: The Proof Is Here, on Monday.