Magical Thinking and Surge Pricing: AIDS 2016 update—Day 1 

July 17, 2016

Hello from the other side—also known as “Conference Land”. The streets in and around the International Conference Center in Durban are thronged with badge-wearing delegates, the Uber taxi prices are surging, and there are already piles of publications scattered across the floor of some of the session rooms where the pre-conferences have taken place. And all this means that there are already things to report, even though the official meeting only starts tomorrow. We can’t be exhaustive, only selective. In this update we offer a quick take on some of the day’s events, focused on the theme of “magical thinking”.

(And read on for more on what you can expect in each of our daily updates from Durban.)

Magical thinking that hurts

UNAIDS in its Prevention Gap report and the Kaiser Family Foundation in its report on the financing of the response have both identified the first drop in HIV funding in five years. There is US$7.2 billion funding gap in the price tag set for achieving the 90-90-90 goal. At a civil society dialogue session with UNAIDS head Michel Sidibe, Amanda Banda of Médecins Sans Frontières challenged Dr. Sidibe not to indulge in “magical thinking” that characterizes global leaders who claim that ending AIDS is possible in the context of this dire funding trend. Tomorrow, beginning at noon, thousands more will voice the same challenge at the March for Health: Quality treatment for all. AVAC will be there—join us!

Magical thinking that excites

At the UNAIDS workshop on the 90-90-90 targets, Nittaya Phanupak of the Thai Red Cross presented on a PrEP and “test and treat” initiative designed by and with key populations, particularly MSM. This multi-pronged effort includes use of MSM social networking sites to promote PrEP and allow visitors to the site to book appointments for testing, PrEP and/or ART. Seventy-six percent of the people who booked appointments online showed up in person. The program also allows for supervised self-testing via video conference—think a Skype chat with a trained counselor—that is reaching more first-time testers and finding more new HIV-positive individuals than traditional clinic-based testing. Okay, so this isn’t magic. But it’s major in terms of meeting people where they are.

Blogging from AIDS 2016

Check out the myriad voices covering the conference, in real-time, across a range of issues at the conference. Read WhatsUpHIV.

Daily updates

Each day you can expect quick updates and links to blogs on prevention activism, links to the great science coverage from NAM and sounds of the conference from the “Truth Booth” to give a flavor of what’s going on from the plenaries to hallway chats. We will also provide a preview of the next day’s events in the Research Literacy Networking Zone (RLZN) as well as some of the sessions we’ve starred on our calendars for the following day.

Monday at the Research Literacy Networking Zone

In addition to having a Help Desk (have a question about prevention research or looking for a resource—stop in!) and a comfortable space to rest your feet, come check out all the great programming in the RLNZ (Global Village, Booth 606). See Monday’s schedule below:

10:00 – 11:00 – Communicating Complex Science Clearly (WRHI)
11:15 – 12:15 – One Woman, Many Voices (AVAC, ICW EA, WRHI)
12:30 – 13:30 – Stories in Sisterhood: Using Digital Storytelling to Enhance Knowledge and Intent to Use PrEP (Texas Woman’s University)
14:00 – 15:30 – Understanding Cure Research (IAS)
16:00 – 17:30 – Regulatory Pathway for HIV Prevention Products: The Dapivirine Ring (IPM)

[The full program and session details are available to download here.]

Follow along in real-time on Twitter, and look for the next update in your inbox tomorrow!