I Had [I Think] A Dream

 

 

As I slipped down the always comfortable seats plenary session after plenary session at the recent World AIDS Congress in Toronto I closed my eyes to concentrate better but kept having (I think) the same recurring dream...

 

 

...that the AUDIENCE for the plenary is full of men and women (mainly men) in suits as policy makers and funders - the famous and the not so famous (I may even have "seen" Stephen Harper in a back row near a door) - sit through session after session making notes as they listen to...

 

 

... a PODIUM and TOP TABLE full of people from a full range of cultures, traditions, experiences and countries with a wide range of analysis, ideas and views to match their diverse backgrounds, orientations and contexts...

 

 

...DEBATING core HIV/AIDS strategic responses rather than addressing and imploring the audience about the specific actions they should all be taking...

 

 

...with an emphasis on the (small p) pOLITICS of HIV/AIDS recognising that with an issue as complex and sensitive as HIV/AIDS the models that guide our strategies should be the civil rights and women's movements not smallpox and childhood immunisation...

 

 

...and extending that thought process to a focus on how COMMUNITIES - physical and identity - can better organise themselves to argue, push and strive for the responses, services and supplies that they believe are required and will work best in their contexts...

 

 

...which involves, of course - and the dream team panels say this over and over - accepting that the response to the epidemic will NOT have universal features but will look different from place to place...

 

 

…as links are made to the ISSUES that CONDITION and DRIVE HIV/AIDS including poverty, trade, stigma, gender, health system capacity, migration and a bunch of other things…

 

 

...with a surprise announcement from a group of funders - from the floor, of course - that they will be placing DECISIONS about how to invest their funds into the hands of groups of people in which at least 50% of the group will be HIV positive, 50% women and 75% from the (so called) developing countries...

 

 

...and the first decision that these groups take is to give every local HIV/AIDS action group anywhere in the world US$100,000 to spend as they (each individual group) think best - zero conditionality and no reporting...

 

 

...only to have my dream - which may be a nightmare to others - rudely disturbed by the reality of sensing vaguely in my imaginary hearing aid talk of our only hope being a looming VACCINE (if 10 or more years is looming); a looming MICROBICIDE (if 5 or more years is looming); suggestions of men everywhere lining up for the compulsory CUTTING ritual; strong recommendations for a SUPPLY side approach to ARVs that continues to come up woefully short; and vaguely worded concerns about corruption and misuse of funds.

 

 

Oh well - back to the eyes closed and (perhaps) the dream.

        Warren Feek