On October 7, at the AIDS Vaccine 2013 Conference in Barcelona, AVAC Advocacy Fellow Ntando Yola gave a powerful speech on the continued and urgent need for an HIV vaccine. We hope you’ll all view the webcast here—and read on for highlights. Stay tuned to the Advocates’ Network for a conference wrap-up and webinar announcement.
Ntando worked at the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation as a Community Engagement Coordinator prior to starting his 2013 Advocacy Fellowship hosted by the Networking HIV/AIDS Community of South Africa (NACOSA). In both of these roles, he’s participated in extensive dialogues with communities engaged in HIV prevention research. In the speech, he told the story of Grace, a South African woman living with HIV. “Brother, in ten years we’ll have a vaccine for HIV, won’t we?” she asked him. “At least when the vaccine comes, my son will be 15 years old and he won’t have to worry about HIV the way I have.” Using Grace’s story, as well as his own experiences growing up with—and witnessing the end of—apartheid, Ntando made a strong case for research and stakeholder engagement that reflects the realities of volunteers’ lives. “Trial participants who face everyday living realities in my country like flooded homes in the winter, may face township fires in the summer, live in shared ablutions, have high rates of unemployment. Yet in all these circumstances, they volunteer.”