What happens when 71 advocates from 10 countries gather to survey the state of HIV prevention for the year to come? At the annual AVAC Partners’ Forum (December 4-6), the answer was: a high-energy conversation that just wouldn’t stop.
For three days of plenary sessions and small group work, participants debated, strategized and prioritized—and energy was as high at the end of the final day as it was when the meeting kicked off with an overview presentation on the science of AIDS in Africa, by South African researcher Helen Rees.
The annual Partners’ Forum is a chance for advocates to share experiences, consider upcoming plans, strengthen existing collaborations and forge new connections. This meeting’s highlights were many and varied—and included a review of advocacy victories in Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe and many other countries; review and debate of the different definitions of “combination prevention” packages proposed by PEPFAR, UNAIDS and other groups; serious consideration of what non-surgical voluntary medical male circumcision devices will mean in 2013; deep concern over the open question as to whether specific long-acting injectable hormonal contraceptives increase women’s risk of acquiring HIV; and comprehensive updates on each biomedical prevention option and related advocacy priorities in 2013.
The conversation covered a lot of ground—with breaks for song, dance and socializing—but resulted in a focused, ambitious set of goals for 2013. These will take flight through many collaborations and projects in the coming year. Look for upcoming webinars to help advocates get up to speed on key topics—and, as always, contact us if you’d like to be more involved.