International AIDS Conference at the RAI Convention Centre

The city of Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands boasts with its artistic heritage and canal systems. The city hosted the 22nd International AIDS Conference at the RAI Convention Centre from July 23rd to July 27th.

A very fascinating place it was especially because it was within its summer days, with longer daylight compared to the night, the sunrise and sunset around 05:45 and 22:30 respectively. The 22nd International Conference was a well organised event from the opening to the closing ceremony, numerous household names came through, Bill Clinton, Charlise Theron, Elton John, Robert Suttle, Felke, Halsema to name a few and our very own Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo also attended the conference.

Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges was the slogan of the conference which echoed the tune ‘Chase the virus, not the people’ giving rise to the idea that HIV, transgender should stop being criminalised, with Robert Suttle delivering a speech on his imprisonment for his lack of HIV disclosure.

The SINIKWA poster presentation received an overwhelming and unexpected attention, people eager to know about the work we had been doing, it was a great experience and feeling to represent and respond to questions on behalf of the hardworking SINIKWA team and be there on behalf of MatCH Research Unit.

Stepping outside of RAI, the transport system is to wish for, so clean, so organised, punctual and reliable. All these factors are applicable to the train, the metro, the trem, and the taxis, to top it all the cyclist also have their own lanes in which they also conform to the traffic lights. Having experienced all these transport systems, I could say it was indeed an amazing experience. The neighbourhood is great, vibrant and lively with everything accessible and on point.

The great transport system offered an opportunity to visit and experience and amazing life of the city of Amsterdam, from the canal experience and the Amsterdam Arena (now known as the Johan Cruijff Arena) tour which is the home of Ajax Amsterdam which some of our own footballers had formerly been with are part of the list of experiences.

In closing, I would like to send a word of encouragement to up and growing future researchers and those towards the direction, that conferences offer a great learning curve and platform for growth both personally and professionally. Having already attended two AIDS conferences, I have grabbed presentation skills and chances to mingle with other role players in this field and get and insight of the work they do in their respective parts of the world, which I would like to believe has a progressive impact, and of course to travel the world.

Article By Mxolisi Mathenjwa – Junior Researcher