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Author Topic: Here's a thought to consider  (Read 20754 times)

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Offline Andy Velez

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Here's a thought to consider
« on: August 25, 2006, 09:57:56 AM »
Dear All,

Over dinner on Sunday night and then again at breakfast on Monday before I left Montreal, the group got into conversation about "next time."

I offered a suggestion for consideration -- that a gathering be held not necessarily in a city but in a retreat or resort sort of setting. The idea would be to have more time for just hanging out together as a group and in smaller groups, perhaps with some yoga and meditation sessions thrown in along with other activities. A couple of people suggested having more regional meetings with the same kind of setting in mind.

The response seemed very positive to the ideas and several said they would even be ok with it being in the US, and mailing their meds ahead of time or making whatever necessary arrangements would be needed in that instance.

It's great for us to get together. I guess what I am thinking is about addressing some needs and issues that along with being enjoyable and valuable when together, would be things which everyone could take back home with them.

So I am throwing these ideas out for your consideration.

Cheers,
Andy Velez

Offline Dachshund

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2006, 10:13:45 AM »
Great idea Andy...I hear the siren song of the Russian River calling...Guerneville Ca.

Hal

Offline Robert

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2006, 10:44:37 AM »
I'm going to let Zephry chime in when she has a moment.  She took notes on everything we said. But let me just tell you some ideas that we tossed about while sitting in the airport for 2 hours.

We thought how convenient/informative it was for Tim HOrn to be there and report on the International Aids Conference in Toronto.  So we thought it might be a good idea to dovetail our own international AMG gathering into the IAC.  We could have regional meetings (Europe, N.America, Africa, Australia) every year and our own international conference every two years. 

And the topics would be literally taking the forums out of the cyber world and into our own physical realm.  Topics would include, "LIving with HIV",,,"Treatment questions"..."Questions about Side Effects"... 
"Lipodystrophy Questions"..."Nutrition and HIV"...etc.

And at the International AMG conference we could present the various reports from the regional gatherings that took place the previous year.

robert
..........

Offline Razorbill

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2006, 10:48:32 AM »
Excellent idea, Andy.  I'm sure some folks would like to have it out west this time, but there is a yoga retreat in the Berkshires of Massachusetts- Kripalu Yoga Center - mostly veggie food served, lots of physical activities, health spa, whirlpool and sauna, and of course alternate type stuff - yoga, meditation etc...  Absolutely gorgeous area too.   I was at the place twice earlier this year.  A thought for sometime in the future.

Offline jkinatl2

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2006, 11:15:46 AM »
I feel like I went to a gathering and a conference this year. The conference was everything I expected, and more. The gathering was not so much, with some remarkable exceptions.

Like Tim (Moffie) says, I sort of had to stop myself in the middle and ask why my expectations were not falling in line with my experiences. And to that end, I managed to swing things around. Breakfast with everyone on Monday, and the conversations I managed to have during my time, really made a difference.

The wealth of experience and strength and knowledge in those rooms was sadly underutilized, I know. I honestly learned more in the brief conversations I had with Any and the two Tims and Zephyr than I learn in any given year on the forums.

There were people at the gathering in dire straits, from a medical and social support perspective. And they were THISCLOSE to the source for a real and workable solution to their difficulties. If anyone comes back to their lives without the knowledge and strength to make real and definitive change, they do so by their own volition.

But the presentation by Tim Horn was amazing, and the resulting discussion was beyond anything I normally experience. And the opportunity to snag a conversation with Andy and Tim and Moffie was gold. It was Bill Gates trapped in an elevator with you gold. It was top of the mountain Dali Lama gold.

And I wanted more. A lot more. And I realized why I had not been having that terrific a time. It was because I had gone to a gathering, but I really wanted a conference.

I'm not always that outgoing with people, and as a result, I really do better in smaller groups, with some commonality beyond, well, beer. A discussion group? A topic-driven meeting? I'm all about it, and more than happy to throw my conversational hat into the ring.

We all struggle with issues as important as living with HIV, making positive change in the world around us, dealing with governmental and scientific and medical entities. And I realized, sitting there in that conference room, that I was surorunded by people who KNEW how to maneuver all these things. I was lucky beyond the telling of it to have gone, to have taken what meager advantage I did. And frankly, I am not sure how much more I could have put into my brain. God/dess knows my heart was about to explode finally being among people who "got" me.... and seemed okay with that.

I really like the idea that Robert mentioned, breaking topics roughly up into forum headings. I would have been thrilled to see one or two structured events like the presentation every day. Not mandatory, just offered.

How about this? We have a gathering once a year, and a conference once a year. The gathering emphasizes on social stuff, with only a token HIV specific/educational presence. Have these in party cities, and cut loose - at the expense of the folks who choose to afford it.

The conference meets at a retreat somewhere, with, I dunno, horses and nature and stuff. Nothing prudish, just not so much neon, not so much booze and boinking. Yooga classes, meditation, stuff we can take home. Maybe a wine tasting or a martini social thing, without taking it into the dark side of COPS at Mardis Gras.  Most importantly,  the opportunity for people to get the skills they need to go home and change the world, and change ourselves along the way, with newfound contacts and friendships forged not through just exchanging fluids, but by exchanging ideas.

Maybe the conference should be the trip that gets the grants, so that aidsmeds is making an investment in people's experience. An investment that gets repaid in policy change and activism, in advocacy and the ability to take the information home and use it. Money way well spent, if you ask me.

I saw some really incredible people having a really incredible time in Montreal. I also saw some really desperate, self-destructive behaviour that, if these meetings contine to grow in scope and attendance, will present a real danger to aidsmeds. Some of the stuff I saw was heartbreaking, and some of the stuff I saw was spiritually transcendant.

I had two distinct experiences at Montreal. One was beyond my ability to articulate right now, because it lifted me to dizzying personal and professional heights. One was not something I'd choose to re-imagine.

If I can have any voice in shaping the future of these things, I would really like to. The potential is amazing, and the people I saw were repositories of information above beyond the scope of this forum.

As you guys can tell, my thoughts are still pretty scattered. Working on that.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2006, 11:25:53 AM by jkinatl2 »
"Many people, especially in the gay community, turn to oral sex as a safer alternative in the age of AIDS. And with HIV rates rising, people need to remember that oral sex is safer sex. It's a reasonable alternative."

-Kimberly Page-Shafer, PhD, MPH

Welcome Thread

Offline David_CA

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2006, 11:34:25 AM »
I think the idea of smaller regional meetings/ gatherings yearly and bigger 'international' gatherings every two years might work well.  That would allow people more time to save for the big gatherings while still attending something more local at the same time.  It would give more time for donations to build up and reach more folks.  Also, the amount of time and energy spent planning these things (thanks Rocky, Jan, Alan, Claude, and everybody else who did anything for AMG '06) is tremendous.  Having them every two years might prevent burn-out by the organizers.  That's not to say I don't want to attend often; we both had a really wonderful time.

I just noticed that Jonathan posted his thoughts prior to my posting this.  I think the idea of several presentations, maybe one or two daily on different topics would work.  It would give the opportunity to work in smaller groups, if that helps some members and be more targeted in the focus.  The only problem with doing this that I see is organization.  Doing something like this would take a LOT more planning. 

I personally do better in casual, informal groups.  Sitting around on the roof deck of the Bourbon with Robert, Rocky, Ernie, and David (and a couple others) was a very informative experience for me.  Most of the discussion was over beer, for sure, but it involved starting meds, side effects, resistance, etc.  This is something that I'll be facing soon enough and something I need to talk about. 

I guess I feel that a lot of these types of gatherings require input and involvement from the attendees.  I think that's good.  Too many people need to discuss issues and don't have an opportunity to do so face-to-face locally.  I can see that if somebody is not very outgoing, they would miss out on a lot.  It's one of those times where one has to put into the group to get much out of it.

As to my expectations... I didn't really have any, other than meeting some decent, cool people, having fun, and seeing a lovely city or two.  My expectations were certainly exceded.  Being new to HIV, it was important for me to see 'normal' people dealing with their health and going about their lives.  Talking face-to-face about issues was a major calming factor for me in a lot of ways.  Next time, I'm sure my expectations will be different. 

David
Black Friday 03-03-2006
03-23-06 CD4 359 @27.4% VL 75,938
06-01-06 CD4 462 @24.3% VL > 100,000
08-15-06 CD4 388 @22.8% VL >  "
10-21-06 CD4 285 @21.9% VL >  "
  Atripla started 12-01-2006
01-08-07 CD4 429 @26.8% VL 1872!
05-08-07 CD4 478 @28.1% VL 740
08-03-07 CD4 509 @31.8% VL 370
11-06-07 CD4 570 @30.0% VL 140
02-21-08 CD4 648 @32.4% VL 600
05-19-08 CD4 695 @33.1% VL < 48 undetectable!
08-21-08 CD4 725 @34.5%
11-11-08 CD4 672 @39.5%
02-11-09 CD4 773 @36.8%
05-11-09 CD4 615 @36.2%
08-19-09 CD4 770 @38.5%
11-19-09 CD4 944 @33.7%
02-17-10 CD4 678 @39.9%  
06-03-10 CD4 768 @34.9%
09-21-10 CD4 685 @40.3%
01-10-11 CD4 908 @36.3%
05-23-11 CD4 846 @36.8% VL 80
02-13-12 CD4 911 @41.4% VL<20
You must be the change you want to see in the world.  Mahatma Gandhi

Offline jkinatl2

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2006, 12:43:34 PM »
Quote

I personally do better in casual, informal groups.  Sitting around on the roof deck of the Bourbon with Robert, Rocky, Ernie, and David (and a couple others) was a very informative experience for me.  Most of the discussion was over beer, for sure, but it involved starting meds, side effects, resistance, etc.  This is something that I'll be facing soon enough and something I need to talk about. 

I totally agree. I had the absolute best time that evening, at my table, with my beer and the people I managed to find. That really was a highlight of my trip.

"Many people, especially in the gay community, turn to oral sex as a safer alternative in the age of AIDS. And with HIV rates rising, people need to remember that oral sex is safer sex. It's a reasonable alternative."

-Kimberly Page-Shafer, PhD, MPH

Welcome Thread

Offline Jody

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2006, 05:33:06 PM »
Having experienced a few AMG's now I think it is an excellent idea as presented by Andy to meet in more of a retreat type setting then a big old get together that revolves around party-time...I think for many folks the get togethers give them a chance to cut loose and forget about HIV for a few days...But for many of us the chance to bond with others who are positive and discuss our reasons for getting together are very important as well...Even at a retreat we can still have a nice dinner and a few drinks but our meeting will be for more constructive purposes.

Smaller, regional meetings may seem cliquish to some but they can prove meaningful to those attending and in addition a larger get-together is also a possibility as well.

My feelings about AMG '06 was that as much fun as it was, and the workshop by Tim Horn was outstanding and informative and gave us purpose, the marriage ceremony was wonderful and the church gathering was very spiritual that perhaps the structure needs to be tweaked to keep us better focused on the prize...Improved health and well being, a cure, better meds at a cheaper price, advocacy and so on...But all and all I think our get togethers are a great thing for the well being of the vast majority of those who attend each time and that is why folks return and new ones join.

Jody   
"Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world".
 "Try to discover that you are the song that the morning brings."

Grateful Dead

Offline Dennis

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2006, 06:00:58 PM »
Although I haven't been able to attend one of the gatherings, I always thought a cruise would be an ideal setting for one of these get togethors.  A nice seven day cruise (or even 3-5 days) could be had for about $100 a day, includes all meals and accomodations, and several countries to get a taste of.  Just about something for everybody on a cruise. 

Offline Ric Wilke

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  • I joined AIDSmed.com 10/2002.
Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2006, 07:36:20 PM »
This thread is sure to be the cause of some debate.  We would like to share our take on what we feel AMG is all about.

Back in spring of 2005 when AMG was first proposed the structure of the event was much discussed.  There were some members who wanted a very structured event while others were looking for a more casual and social atmosphere.  As the planning of AMG 2005 progressed, the event took on a totally social flavor.  This structure carried over into AMG 2006 with one wonderful element added with the Seminar presented by Tim Horn on Saturday morning.  The inclusion of this seminar was a true highlight for those of us who were able to attend.

Now, it has been suggested that the next Gathering take on a more formal structure.  Well, we attend AMG (AIDSmeds Gathering) for itís social atmosphere.  If we wanted to attend AMC (AIDSmeds Conference) we could attend the next International AIDS Conference.  There is a place for both in our world and we do not see the necessity to duplicate the efforts or the expense.

We hope that you are lucky enough to able to attend both events.  We will continue to attend AMG and if need be we will organize an event that is just like the ones held in Montreal and Toronto.

Thanks for respecting our viewpoint.  With warmest regards, Ric and Thom

Offline Cliff

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2006, 09:39:48 AM »
I think Andy's suggestion of additional social activities is great.  This could help to enhance the social functions/purpose, I believe these gatherings serve.  Also having it at a retreat would be beneficial as well, as it would probably limit the distractions that a large city provides, (assuming the group wants to limit those distractions).  There are loads of beautiful places in the US that can be very expiring, fun and relaxing (and then some).

At the moment, I'm not sure how I feel about additional HIV presentations and workshops.  I'd have to give that suggestion some additional thought.  I can see Ric and Thom's perspective in that 1) a conference would probably overlap with the numerous other HIV conferences held throughout the year.  And not just the large international conference, but also the national conferences, as well as local (city) conferences, workshops and luncheons put on by various organizations/governmental authorities; and 2) I found that gathering had as much HIV discussions as I wanted it to.  Primarily because I made the effort to have those discussions with individuals (or not have them).  While there were times I was curious about how HIV impacted someone else, that wasn't very often.  I was more interested in getting to know everyone as a person and HIV is only a part of who we are.  There is a balancing act here and I'm certain we can find it.

At the start of the trip, I realized that this event would not fulfill my desires if I didn't put forth an effort to make it so AND if I didn't let go of all my preconceived notions about people based on my experiences in the forums.  And I'm glad I did.

In any event, this is a great discussion.  Everything should be on the table, so that next year we can build upon the successes of this year and the previous one.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2006, 09:54:02 AM by Cliff »

Offline Razorbill

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2006, 10:58:44 AM »
There is a surfeit of information on HIV/AIDS coming at us from all directions.  Knowledge is power, but power is an illusion.  The real power lies within, the inner frontier, the unexplored parts of our being.  I sensed a reaching out for love and companionship and support at the gathering.  A place like Kripalu Yoga center, or anything like it anywhere we wish to meet, is the type of quiet, sheltered space for folks to meet their inner selves, and each other, without distractions.  Some of us are in in a strong, confident place - others are hurting and need support and healing (we all need some support and healing).  I vote for a space that fosters that with peace, programs, exercise and energy.

for those interested in seeing:http://www.kripalu.org/

Offline David_CA

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2006, 12:02:34 PM »
To me, the Gathering was a reflection of the forums here.  A lot of what we seek from the forums is information.  For some of us, it's all we seek.  For others, it's a form of social interaction.  The Gathering was just that.  Any needs I had for friendship, information, just feeling like a normal person, whatever... were met.  All that was required was for me to ask, just like here on the forums.  If I didn't feel comfortable asking, I could participate in a conversation between others, just like here on the forums. 

I think that most of us got what we wanted or needed from AMG '06.  If we didn't, I don't see it as a failure in the planning or organization of the Gathering.  I saw the Gathering as a big buffet... all you can eat, of course.  If one passes through the line and puts very little on one's plate, one will still be hungry.  There was a wealth of information, experiences, kindness, and compassion all for the taking.  I guess what would make the next AMG an even bigger success would be for folks to think about what they need to get from it.  If these suggestions are collected by one of the organizers, perhaps topics of discussion, etc could be arranged.  I doubt there were many, if any, topics that couldn't be handled by several of the attendees at the AMG. 

Perhaps, we should all write down our expectations and what we need from the AMG's.  This will make it easier for each of us to make it happen for each of us.  Regardless, for me, just seeing how caring, compassionate, funny, and friendly all the attendees are was what I needed.  We just need to take a little of that home and try to apply it to our daily lives.  Bitterness, bitchiness, and general negativity weren't much of a part of AMG '06; let's keep all that out of our lives 'til the next AMG (and beyond).

David
Black Friday 03-03-2006
03-23-06 CD4 359 @27.4% VL 75,938
06-01-06 CD4 462 @24.3% VL > 100,000
08-15-06 CD4 388 @22.8% VL >  "
10-21-06 CD4 285 @21.9% VL >  "
  Atripla started 12-01-2006
01-08-07 CD4 429 @26.8% VL 1872!
05-08-07 CD4 478 @28.1% VL 740
08-03-07 CD4 509 @31.8% VL 370
11-06-07 CD4 570 @30.0% VL 140
02-21-08 CD4 648 @32.4% VL 600
05-19-08 CD4 695 @33.1% VL < 48 undetectable!
08-21-08 CD4 725 @34.5%
11-11-08 CD4 672 @39.5%
02-11-09 CD4 773 @36.8%
05-11-09 CD4 615 @36.2%
08-19-09 CD4 770 @38.5%
11-19-09 CD4 944 @33.7%
02-17-10 CD4 678 @39.9%  
06-03-10 CD4 768 @34.9%
09-21-10 CD4 685 @40.3%
01-10-11 CD4 908 @36.3%
05-23-11 CD4 846 @36.8% VL 80
02-13-12 CD4 911 @41.4% VL<20
You must be the change you want to see in the world.  Mahatma Gandhi

Offline Moffie65

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2006, 01:12:25 PM »
Ok, I have really thought alot about this now for a whole year.

I don't particularly enjoy being the beneficiary of those very generous folks that have seen fit to sponsor my attendance at these very interesting and inspiring gatherings.  It ain't easy living on disability, and being able to pay your own way.  On the other hand, I also understand that the generousity that these people have shown to me and others, is something that I nor anyone else should steal away from them.  I was one of those people that used to donate to help others acheive their dreams, I could do it, enjoyed it, and in the end I got more from the giving than they got from the accmplishments they were aspiring to.

Be that as it may, I am still very much concerned that we need to pursue some outside source of funding for these events, as it is very obvious that they are going to grow and become far more than any of us might have dreamed before Toronto.  (AMG '05)  I think we now have the "connections" to make a real and balanced approach to a funding source, and to that end, we need to approach that as a distinct possibility in the very near future.  The absolute cost of these events, is astounding, when you add all the expenses that were paid for by each one of the individuals attending.  To help make these events more accessible to the very many on these fora, it might just help to find a source very soon, which will further the discussions, and keep us more open to possibilities that we could not otherwise dream of.

I know that there are many small privately owned resorts/ranches here in the southwest, and many of them are Gay owned.  With that in mind, we might be able to really get some interesting quotes for their facilities, and start out with some specific advantages concerning our "Living with HIV".  Arizona and New Mexico have many such places, and the sensitivity and knowledge of these types of private locations would also help to keep a large group in a supportive and comfortable environment.  Also, there are ASO's that are able to step in and source any medical and pharmaceutical needs that might arise, which we all witnessed this time with kcmetroman/John's unfortunate accidental injury of his foot.

I firmly stand behind any effort to create regional gatherings around the globe, but to then make an effort to meet every two years, also dovetailing the IAC.  This would keep things real, and at the same time, give us every opportunity to get together on an irregular schedule to gain some of that healing energy which we all need, and which is so very prevalent when we gather.

I want also  at this time, to volunteer my efforts to make such an event happen, and with the assistance of Aztecan/Mark, and my friend from Phoenix, Jefferyj/Jeff; I think we can pull off something that might really surpirse you all.  After all, who doesn't want to see Santa Fe, or Sedona at least once in their lives.  Also, many need to see the "Big Ditch" (Grand Canyon) that runs through the northern end of Arizona, and why not now?  It can be accessed by a really fun train trip from near Flagstaff, which would be a wonderful way for this group to travel.  We might even be able to reserve our own train carriage.

OK, now that I have thrown it out there, let's see what kind of stuff lands.

In Love, and Committment.
The Bible contains 6 admonishments to homosexuals,
and 362 to heterosexuals.
This doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals,
It's just that they need more supervision.
Lynn Lavne

Offline zephyr

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2006, 02:07:32 PM »
Hi Andy,

As our Robert has mentioned, he and I put our time to good use while we waited to depart Montreal. I was thrilled at what transpired between us in that short amount of time, and hope that I can aptly translate what we discussed. We named our chart "ROBERT'S PLAN":

A year passes so quickly, and we felt that holding a AMG each two years provided people with more time to save money with which to go. Aligning that event to coincide with the IAC could repeat the sterling opportunity like the one we shared with Tim Horn, to present pertinent information to the group fresh from the Conference.

In between, a "Regional Meet" could occur, placing the venue in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia, NZ, etc, as Robert mentioned, above. Perhaps this event could be the more 'social' one, for participants to get there ya-ya's out, so to speak.

Or vice a versa.

We also composed a draft list of items that advocated a 'Conference Center' of sorts (resort, etc.), which I will type directly from our notes:

1. Convenience (services consolidated more closely together, food, sleeping quarters...some of our members at Montreal suffered sore feet and
                        legs, for example, walking the distances to restaurants, bars, etc.)

2. Time savings.

3. A more 'professional' venue (for lack of a better word, no offense to anything or anyone intended)

4. More conducive to extemporaneous exchanges of thought and dialogue (Socratic)

5. Strike a balance between recreational & constructive activities

6. Schedule event for a maximum of 4 days or so.

Structure of Event

1. Replicate our "Forums" topics (Living With, Nutrition, Meds, etc) for educative sessions and exchanges, AidsMeds LIVE, if you will.

2. Offer sessions for 'Regional' reports, IAC reports, and reports from International Vaccine Conferences, for example.


I recognize that our group is very diverse, and very intelligent! Robert and I believe that all of us can bring something to this discussion, and have the power amongst us to continue to create a fulfilling meet/gathering in the future.

Thanks for your patience with me while I continue to process two very impactful events combined with hours of travel and one tired mind/body.

Love to you all,

Zephyr :-*



"It is character that communicates most eloquently."

Offline terpie82

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2006, 01:27:40 AM »
It's just a thought but we cannot make EVERYONE happy ALL the time. I for one would like a little more of a conference like setting, but I still want the casual and intimate feeling so I think a balance or compromise would have to be in place. As for alternating annual regional with worldwide meetings, if that's the case, it's at the risk of sacrificing getting together with members of other countries for another year. If that is to be, it has to be but I may be sad (e.g. I couldn't see an AMG '07 without Cliff or potentially new members living in other countries).

If we do offer some more structure, I propose that we make it clear to everyone that it's not mandatory to participate so that some people who see this as a vacation can do as they please such as sight-seeing, shopping, etc. And if we offer some "mini"-conferences, I think we should limit our presenters to those going to the gathering and not have scientists or physicians give the presentations. And each session can be half an hour or an hour. I for one would like to attend a workshop given by Moffie on writing grants, one given by Zephyr on the current research on Elite Controllers, one given by Lisa on pets and people living with HIV, one given by Cliff on how to dress, and I wouldn't mind talking about some science and would love to have a friendly discussion with everyone involved...OK, so maybe some of those ideas may be out there, but the whole idea is we can offer a conference without a conference feeling within a casual gathering. Someone mentioned yoga, and perhaps a sports activity (basketball anyone? yeah I may be short, but I know how to deal with balls ;-D), the trip to a museum, etc. can all be part of our itinerary while allowing a large chunk of time so people can do as they please without feeling guilty if they don't join in on the group activity. As long as we make it clear to everyone that attendance is NOT required, that we don't guilt those who don't attend, and we get at least 6 (just an arbitrary #) people to sign up for each session, I think we can make this fly next year.

We have to understand that people will come here with different backgrounds, lifestyles and expectations. Someone working 12 hour shifts 6 days a week will probably see the gathering as a mini-vacation. Someone who's mind is like a sponge will constantly seek out information and someone who doesn't have much interaction with other poz folks may see this as an opportunity to bond with his/her fellow blood relatives. I'm sure we can come up with a way to make EVERYONE or close to everyone happy on our next gathering as I hope that the # of participants will increase dramatically with each progressive year.
Diagnosed in 2003
UD since 2004 and >35% (with one blip)

Offline IzPoz

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2006, 10:09:13 AM »
I have to agree with Tim, in that some sort of funding, or arrangements could be made to give participants discounts.

Being new to the forums, I have not been to any of the AMG's, but I do have an interest in the possibility.  Though, while I'm not on disability, I do only have one income plus the subsidation I receive for my daughter, and I literally live paycheck to paycheck.  Being able to afford a gathering for me, is a foreign thought, one that I don't believe would be possible for me.

I can only comment on the financial aspect of these gatherings/conferences, and will leave the debate of the structure to others who have experienced this great opportunity.

And thank you all for making this opportunity a reality for others who want to reach out!
The reason angels can fly is that they take themselves so lightly. ~ Chesterton G. K.

Offline RAB

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2006, 10:15:18 AM »
It's just a thought but we cannot make EVERYONE happy ALL the time. I for one would like a little more of a conference like setting, but I still want the casual and intimate feeling so I think a balance or compromise would have to be in place. As for alternating annual regional with worldwide meetings, if that's the case, it's at the risk of sacrificing getting together with members of other countries for another year. If that is to be, it has to be but I may be sad (e.g. I couldn't see an AMG '07 without Cliff or potentially new members living in other countries).

If we do offer some more structure, I propose that we make it clear to everyone that it's not mandatory to participate so that some people who see this as a vacation can do as they please such as sight-seeing, shopping, etc. And if we offer some "mini"-conferences, I think we should limit our presenters to those going to the gathering and not have scientists or physicians give the presentations. And each session can be half an hour or an hour. I for one would like to attend a workshop given by Moffie on writing grants, one given by Zephyr on the current research on Elite Controllers, one given by Lisa on pets and people living with HIV, one given by Cliff on how to dress, and I wouldn't mind talking about some science and would love to have a friendly discussion with everyone involved...OK, so maybe some of those ideas may be out there, but the whole idea is we can offer a conference without a conference feeling within a casual gathering. Someone mentioned yoga, and perhaps a sports activity (basketball anyone? yeah I may be short, but I know how to deal with balls ;-D), the trip to a museum, etc. can all be part of our itinerary while allowing a large chunk of time so people can do as they please without feeling guilty if they don't join in on the group activity. As long as we make it clear to everyone that attendance is NOT required, that we don't guilt those who don't attend, and we get at least 6 (just an arbitrary #) people to sign up for each session, I think we can make this fly next year.

We have to understand that people will come here with different backgrounds, lifestyles and expectations. Someone working 12 hour shifts 6 days a week will probably see the gathering as a mini-vacation. Someone who's mind is like a sponge will constantly seek out information and someone who doesn't have much interaction with other poz folks may see this as an opportunity to bond with his/her fellow blood relatives. I'm sure we can come up with a way to make EVERYONE or close to everyone happy on our next gathering as I hope that the # of participants will increase dramatically with each progressive year.

Minh:

I think you're observations and suggestions are perfect. 

The balance between conference and gathering can/should be where we focus our attention for next year, as opposed to splitting the two.  That's what I would like to see happen anyway.

RAB

Offline sweetasmeli

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2006, 12:41:43 PM »
I'm going to give this topic more thought...

But for now I wanted to say that as well as the main AMGs each year, I think the 'mini gatherings' are important too. They give people the chance to meet others from here in their country/area or in areas they can afford to get to more easily. I realise such gatherings wont have such structured organisation including conferences etc like the main AMGs but I think they are equally as important for the mental/emotional development of people here wanting/needing to meet others who simply 'get them'. Plus such gatherings offer up a myriad of experiences that can also be shared on here.

Me and Ann had a miniscule gathering of 2 last December in Liverpool, which we didnt mention on the forums (mainly cos I wasn't ready to be so 'out there' I think). I have also been following the thread about the Amsterdam gathering, which I think is great - the only reason I'm not going to that is its my birthday that weekend and I like to be home on my birthday! Oh plus now I'll still be working! Now I'm planning a trip to Oz in November (EEK!) and talks are in the pipelines for me to meet up with Matty and some others in Sydney which I'm very excited about!

I think the more 'mini gatherings' that occur through here, the better! It offers up opportunities for people to reach out and really connect with others living with hiv. I think thats what a lot of us want/need, at least from time to time.

Meanwhile, I'm going to print off this thread and have a good think about what I think re the main AMGs.

Melia :)



 
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Offline AlanBama

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #19 on: August 27, 2006, 01:02:21 PM »
I think Minh is exactly right.

And Iz, let me say something to you:  at one time I said that I could not possibly imagine myself going to something like this.   I was wrong for saying that, and wrong for thinking it.   If you open up your heart and mind to the possibilites of the Universe, who knows what might happen?  I went this year, and for the most part, I paid my own way.   You never know what might happen, but it definitely WON'T happen if you don't think it can.  I am living proof of this.

I just want to extend my gratitude and appreciation to all those who put in hours of work in planning and preparing for AMG 06.  I won't name names, you know who you are.   You are loved, and appreciated.

Alan
"Remember my sentimental friend that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." - The Wizard of Oz

Offline LatinAlexander

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #20 on: August 27, 2006, 07:27:47 PM »
Well, you al lknow I am new here, but I was definitely looking forward to meet some people. In some particular situations, there are not so many ASO in certain parts of the world, so a chance to get information, and chill out with other people like me is pretty valuable.

Alex
Poz since Jul 19 2006
Initial numbers : CD4-250 VL 3500
First labs after HAART (Dec 04-2006) : CD4-432 VL-<40 (Undetectable)  cd4%=25.11%
Started HAART: Combivir+Efavirenz Aug 26 7:38 pm
Feb 08 2007 - Gradually stopping HAART cause of Myalgia. Protecting Efavirenz. Stopped Efavirenz, ahead with Combivir....
February 17 Combivir stopped.
April 3 -07 : Started ddi+3tc+efavirenz...
Gay and positive (What a lack of Identity...:) )
Looking for my Ben....

Offline wellington

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #21 on: August 28, 2006, 11:56:16 AM »
I would have loved to join in the fun in Montreal but it seemed the gathering snuck up on me. I don't generally read this part of the boards, mainly because of time constraints, but I will try to make more a point of it in future.

Montreal would have been perfect for me for, as a Canadian, it means I don't have to cross any international borders. Having been diagnosed only earlier this year, I'm still somewhat anxious about visiting the US again given the current draconian policies regarding HIV positive folks. Why would I want to spend a wad of cash to travel only to be turned back at the border? Sending my meds ahead in the mail is also concerning. Aside from these bugaboos, I used to love visiting the US and have many friends there still.

Of course, with the prospect of so many more people coming to future events the idea of a discount or group rate is appealing. This does open up another can of worms though that we have to identify ourselves to some degree to get the discount. While I don't have any specific concerns about it for myself, some may not find this too likeable.

And, though I don't want to end on a sour note, since I think gathering is a great opportunity, what about the eventuality that an increased presence of HIV positive people will upset people in the region in which we gather? These forums are, after all, public to a large extent and this world seems bent, lately, on terrorism and persecution. I'd like to believe that we all have the right of assembly, but it only takes one bad apple to sour the cider.

Those are my immediate thoughts. I hope I can attend the next gathering. It sure sounded like Montreal was a life altering experience for many who attended and those kinds of milestones are few and far between!

Offline RAB

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #22 on: August 28, 2006, 10:52:22 PM »
Hello Everyone:   ;D

To those members who believe we should split the gathering into two separate events, gathering vs conference:

To those members who did not got to Montreal, but who may be influenced by the suggestions of others:

I would ask only one thing.

Please, click on this link, http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=3272.0.

Look at the photos.

Look at the faces.

Look at the undeniable joy and laughter.

Look at the unquestionable living  we experienced.

Look at the spectrum of members: male & female, young & old, imagine the long term survivors & newly diagnosed, imagine the hetero & gay.

All I ask is that you look.

All I ask is that you imagine.

All I ask is that you remember "pictures speak louder than words".

I believe in these gatherings because of what you all can see in these photos.

I believe the gatherings are headed in the "right" direction.  I support fully the addition of more educational/conference based events on the agenda if there is support from the attendees.  I think that is just one component of how these gatherings will continue to grow and allow so many more to experience what can happen.

I am adamantly opposed to splitting this gathering into what some have defined as more "professional" vs the social nature they have possessed over the last two years.

Again, I ask you, look at the photos, if you support splitting the gatherings into something else, please reconsider your position.

RAB

Offline The Canuck

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #23 on: August 28, 2006, 11:18:55 PM »
Hello Everyone !

I thought about this within the last few days and took into consideration the attendees we had in Montreal. It doesn't reflect in any ways what I think but moreover an observation from the situation.

My gut feeling says that if this is being splitted, the conference gathering won't attract too much people and the social gathering so-to-speak will attract more attendees. Actually if such would be happening ( splitting these ) I don't think one would harm the other though. Why ? Well, the ones who prefers to have a conference environment would attend this one and the persons who are more oriented on the '' social aspect '' of the gathering would go for this.

Given the above, it would become a problem for those who are interested with both but couldn't afford to attend both event, and definitely a problem for the Grants Committee. Therefore the best option appears to be the combination of both and mean something for everybody.

Regards,

The Canuck....former Ambassador

Offline David_CA

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #24 on: August 28, 2006, 11:30:20 PM »
Well said Rocky and Claude.  I think I may have mentioned it in an earlier post, but I think the Gathering (not conference) went very well.  If there are topics that members think that the attendees would be interested in, a general discussion here or a poll would work to ascertain interest.  Informal discussions are what I had in mind.  Something like what he had on the Bourbon roof deck or a breakfast or lunch 'meeting' might work.  Again, this needs to be driven by the interest of the group.  We certainly shouldn't expect the organizers to take care of everything, although they certainly seemed to try to!   ;)  Basically, if I want to see something specific take place at a Gathering, I should be willing to put forth some of the effort.  The Chapel of Hope is a perfect example of what I'm talking about.


David
Black Friday 03-03-2006
03-23-06 CD4 359 @27.4% VL 75,938
06-01-06 CD4 462 @24.3% VL > 100,000
08-15-06 CD4 388 @22.8% VL >  "
10-21-06 CD4 285 @21.9% VL >  "
  Atripla started 12-01-2006
01-08-07 CD4 429 @26.8% VL 1872!
05-08-07 CD4 478 @28.1% VL 740
08-03-07 CD4 509 @31.8% VL 370
11-06-07 CD4 570 @30.0% VL 140
02-21-08 CD4 648 @32.4% VL 600
05-19-08 CD4 695 @33.1% VL < 48 undetectable!
08-21-08 CD4 725 @34.5%
11-11-08 CD4 672 @39.5%
02-11-09 CD4 773 @36.8%
05-11-09 CD4 615 @36.2%
08-19-09 CD4 770 @38.5%
11-19-09 CD4 944 @33.7%
02-17-10 CD4 678 @39.9%  
06-03-10 CD4 768 @34.9%
09-21-10 CD4 685 @40.3%
01-10-11 CD4 908 @36.3%
05-23-11 CD4 846 @36.8% VL 80
02-13-12 CD4 911 @41.4% VL<20
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Offline The Canuck

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #25 on: August 28, 2006, 11:49:14 PM »
Hi y'all again !

I'd like to add something in regards with the conference(s) in a situation where we would have both, and this is my personal view about it.

I'd be interested by a conference on '' new meds '' by example but not at all on the '' old ones ''. I mean, do I really want to hear to talk about Sustiva when all the information about this can be found on that site? Not really !Therefore it also means the choices of discussion ( conference or whatever you want to call them ) must bring something new ( or innovative ) if possible, and not stuff we already know and discussed to death here on these forums. It would mean also all potential attendees will have to speak up and say what they want. This is nice to have some persons taking care of it all , but in such case all the ones who wants to attend must be pro-active on the subject, and not blame the messenger afterwards.

However what I stated above can be true for me and my reality, but totally different for another person. Again, it would give me the choice to attend or not such conferences depending of their natures.

The following will need to be determine :

#1 Potential attendees will have to decide what type of gathering they want.

#2 If conferences are being held...what would interest them ?

From there it'll be easier for the organizers to work with the information brought to them.

Regards,

The Canuck

Offline AlanBama

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #26 on: August 29, 2006, 12:08:53 AM »
hehehe

we've got Claude saying y'all now   ;D
"Remember my sentimental friend that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." - The Wizard of Oz

Offline Joe K

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #27 on: August 29, 2006, 12:15:52 AM »
I vote to keep it very simple.  Keep the event to four days and maybe our AM moderators would be willing to sponsor a workshop or two on say three of those four days.  Social events would be planned, but limited to a max of two per day.  You can fit a lot in and divide the work based on each of our interests.

The frustration in Montreal was there was way too much to do from Thursday afternoon to noon on Saturday.

Break it up and opposite schedule things where possible, so if someone wants to do a workshop and social event, they don't always have to choose one or the other.

Simple is best, because as many of us have experienced, complicated is really hard work.  If we start talking now, we could decide on the framework for next year and start laying groundwork until we choose a city.  We can certainly do both and now all we need is someone to start the ball rolling.
Life is what happens, when you are busy making other plans.

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Offline Robert

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #28 on: August 29, 2006, 12:54:34 AM »
Oh definatley we should NOT split up the Gathering.

I totally agree with David's idea.  Just like Alan and Jan took on the responsibility of the church gathering, someone else is more than welcome to work on a specific event if they have one in mind.  Like Ric and Thom.  They managed to bring their wedding into the GAthering and it worked out beautifully.  Do we have any takers for another wedding next year?  Well, probably not but that's not the point.  The point is if anyone has any inkling of an idea of an event or a  celebrattion, they  are more than welcome to make it part of the overall Gathering. 
..........

Offline zephyr

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #29 on: August 29, 2006, 02:01:44 AM »
Splitting?

Robert and I in no way suggested anything of the kind. In fact, we were actually ADDING something to the mix.

I agree with Joe, keep it simple.

Just my two cents.

Zephie
"It is character that communicates most eloquently."

Offline david25luvit

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #30 on: August 29, 2006, 08:19:32 AM »
I didn't hear anything about this at the gathering in Montreal...but I think its a great idea.  I would welcome more
events centered around the group as a whole.  It might have added more to my experience had I been able to mingle more with the group as a whole and not just the ones who showed up for dinner and drinks.  Planning events would make it a little more organized....  In my opinion in Montreal...we were all a bit scattered and some of us were not privy to certain get togethers.   Like for example Sunday night in Jan's room.  I didn't go to Quebec City...for several reasons and I suppose I was unaware of this particular get together.  In the future...to make everyone feel like they are apart of the group...my suggestion would be to include everyone in every event.  But that's my two cents worth..........
In Memory of
Raymond David McRae III
Nov. 25, 1972- Oct. 15, 2004
I miss him terribly..........

Offline The Canuck

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #31 on: August 29, 2006, 10:19:50 AM »
David,

The side-trip to Quebec City has been planned months in advance and actually posted several times concerning this trip. There are two threads related to it here and it was also mention in the thread giving details about all the possible activities.

The trip was cancelled the night before since we were expecting heavy rain in Quebec City, but some ( most ) decided to go anyway so we did it.

Regards,

Claude

Offline david25luvit

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #32 on: August 29, 2006, 10:30:47 AM »
Claude...

                 I wasn't referring to the trip to Quebec...I knew about it months in advance.  I was referring to holding
our gatherings in a retreat or whatever.  Apparently this was discussed in Montreal by a few.  I was agreeing with the suggestion that we meet somewhere that would allow more contact and events for the group as a whole.  I wasn't complaining about anything......Sorry if you misunderstood my drug induced rantings.  English is suppose to be my first language but I fear I'm still a student in the use of the written word. ::)

                  Incidentally...I really enjoyed meeting you in Montreal.  I thought you were an excellent HOST! :P
In Memory of
Raymond David McRae III
Nov. 25, 1972- Oct. 15, 2004
I miss him terribly..........

Offline Andy Velez

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #33 on: August 29, 2006, 02:18:02 PM »
Just a ps here after the many comments....

As Rocky has said, "just look at the pictures."

I'm not sure exactly where the idea of "splitting" the gatherings into two different kinds of meetings got started and I'm lazy enough at this moment to not retrace the entries to find out.

I don't see any reason why any gathering, however frequent and whether regional or larger, can't include both some information/discussion sessions AND a lot of  hanging out and people enjoying themselves. If most feel they want to do it in another city setting, ok. Someone has already PM'd me with a suggestion about a place where he used to work in Colorado that sounds like it might be a great place to combine both aspects comfortably.

One of the things that struck me forcibly during the Montreal trip is how much it meant for everyone to be with others who are HIV+ and to not have to worry about many issues related to one's status. Some people are fortunate enough to have found substantial support in their home communities. but very sadly many have not had that experience.

The nourishment spiritually and emotionally that comes out of being with one's sisters and brothers is a huge thing. I'm for whatever works to have everyone going back to their lives elsewhere feeling  strengthened by the experience together.

 
Andy Velez

Dan J.

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #34 on: August 29, 2006, 04:04:17 PM »
I would definantly like to see a more balanced itenerary of conferences and social activities.  At the same time we should consider reaching out to children/ young adults living with HIV. I have found several camps in the United States and one in Canada. All of these camps operate with the assistance of volunteers.   One camp (Camp Heartland) even offers lodging for groups such as ours.  Something to consider.

Here are the links:

http://www.campoasis.com Camp Oasis Canada

http://www.campheartland.org Camp Heartland (This camp offers facilities for Adults)

http://www.camppacificheartland.org Hollywood Heart

http://sunburstprojects.org Sunburst projects

Dan J.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2006, 04:21:33 PM by Dan J. »

Offline wellington

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #35 on: August 29, 2006, 04:23:36 PM »
As I mentioned previously, I didn't seize the opportunity to attend, so all I could do was to read the postings of those who attended and view the pictures. having done so, my vicarious experience tells me I should attend a gathering in the near future. The pictures spoke volumes of the experiences of the attendees!

If I wasn't about to start school again in a week, I'd be hot to book a trip to Amsterdam (love that place!) for the end of September. Any chance we might take over a Caribbean island? 8)

Offline Cliff

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #36 on: August 29, 2006, 06:54:16 PM »
I am trying to put together a survey for those who went to Montreal (initially) and then for the general forum members.  Several members are reviewing the questionnaire.  I also need to find an online website that I can use, for free, to administer the survey.  I'll keep everyone posted on this proceeds.  But some of the questions will address the topics discussed here.

The survey isn't meant to replace the important discussion occurring in the forums.  But hopefully it will help augment these discussions by quantifying member input (at least as it stands right now).

Offline DingoBoi

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #37 on: August 29, 2006, 08:29:05 PM »
yay cliffy.

I know for myself I am opposed to any split of the groups in a fun group and a conference group.

I do not mind adding programs or seminars to the main event, but I do look upon this as a vacation and treat it as such. 

If I really want to learn about hiv, that's what this site and poz.com is for for the latest in treatment news.  The seminar, while interesting, isn't my cup of tea at all and not what I look for from this event.

I would strongly suggest that those interested in more seminar events step up and create them.  If you offer, some people will come.  There is often free time in the morning for these type of event that won't impact on the overall social function. 

If I see the social part being widdled away, I'll be strongly opposed. 

To me, this event is about getting together with other hiv positive people who 'get it' and understand, but shouldn't necessarily be about talking about hiv 24/7 like a conference. 

Add seminars to the main event, but don't try to change the main event, which to me, is and should be social in nature.  I won't attend most of the seminars (hell, I was over an hour late for tim's... whoops :P )

I only get and can afford one vacation a year and that's a bit strapping.   I choose to spend it at the amg and i love the times i've had in toronto and montreal.   If the event goes much more seminarish and less social, I likely wouldn't attend as that is not what I want out of this event.

For those who want a truly conference type approach, there are many of them existing already, we don't need to duplicate them (but again, I'm not opposed at all to more seminars like tim's next year for those who do want them.  I just don't think the gathering should be a conference type event.

there is room for more seminar type programs during the SOCIAL amg, but it is, and i think should be primarily social in nature.   That's my perspective on the matter.



Offline J.R.E.

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #38 on: August 29, 2006, 09:11:21 PM »

I have to agree with Bailey, and some of the other comments made. While I have not attended the AMG's, I would look at this to be an opportunity to meet people, and socialize, and have fun. While the seminars can give great information, that information can also be read right here in the forums. There may be some people on the forums, who will undoubetly feel  "leftout" if information was provided on the seminars, and not brought here to the forums. Not everyone is going to make the AMG's. Timing is crucial for many of us. Any info made available at the seminars needs to be made public, here on the forums...

Many of us have partners and we both continue to work full time. My vacations are a big time of the year for me.(us) I don't want to be couped up. I would rather be outside enjoying the city, the restaurants. heck, It would be cool to rent bikes, and go for bike rides if trails are available, for those interested. I enjoy swimming also !! Much of us spend too much time indoors anyway, due to work or possibly health reasons. it's time to get out and enjoy. Keep it simple and have fun, with those special moments scheduled.



Just my thoughts------Ray
Current Meds ; Viramune, Epzicom, 40mg of simvastatin, 12.5mg of Hydrochlorothiazide.
Metoprolol tartrate 25mg



http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=40802.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=45159.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=39722.msg495621;topicseen#msg495621

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=46806.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=39414.msg491701#msg491701


 In October of 2003, My t-cell count was 16, Viral load was over 500,000, Percentage at that time was 5%. I started my first  HAART regimen  on October 24th,03.

 As of DEC 9th, 2013,  t-cells are at 437 Viral load  <40 .

 Current % is at 16% (L)

  
 62 years young.

Offline cmhjeff

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  • Posts: 870
Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #39 on: August 30, 2006, 04:42:41 PM »
I know that there are many small privately owned resorts/ranches here in the southwest, and many of them are Gay owned.  With that in mind, we might be able to really get some interesting quotes for their facilities, and start out with some specific advantages concerning our "Living with HIV".  Arizona and New Mexico have many such places, and the sensitivity and knowledge of these types of private locations would also help to keep a large group in a supportive and comfortable environment.

I want also  at this time, to volunteer my efforts to make such an event happen, and with the assistance of Aztecan/Mark, and my friend from Phoenix, Jefferyj/Jeff; I think we can pull off something that might really surpirse you all.  After all, who doesn't want to see Santa Fe, or Sedona at least once in their lives.  Also, many need to see the "Big Ditch" (Grand Canyon) that runs through the northern end of Arizona, and why not now?  It can be accessed by a really fun train trip from near Flagstaff, which would be a wonderful way for this group to travel.  We might even be able to reserve our own train carriage.

OK, now that I have thrown it out there, let's see what kind of stuff lands.

In Love, and Committment.
This sounds wonderful! I've heard only wonderful things about Sedona and the train sounds like a great way to see  the Grand Canyon. For years my sister has anted us to visit her in Bernallilo and this would be an ideal reason to make the trip.

Offline jkinatl2

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  • Doo. Dah. Dipp-ity.
Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #40 on: August 30, 2006, 04:59:03 PM »
I honestly don't see why we can't have stuff available for people who want seminars (which would of COURSE be available to the forums... we're not talking about hoarding information, only having a real-life roundtable discussion). How would that cut into the social stuff for those who want a purely social experience? I might be irretrievably stupid here, but I don't see an either-or situation. I had the most fantastic discussion with Moffie and Andy, and I had the best time at the wedding reception. I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the presentation by Tim, and I had an ethereal and profound experience in the Old City. Those are both important to me. I would not want to forfeit one of those experiences for the other. And both of those experiences are unique to the people I was with, people infected and affected with HIV. I can have a strictly social time with any group of people, more or less. When I am here on this forum, or at a gathering, I want that unique experience. I want to learn stuff, to hear the stories, to be inspired, to carry that newfound hope and connection with me when I return home.

And while I absolutely want to have a great time, I also want to come away from the experience enriched. That certainly happened in Montreal. I didn't go pub crawling, does that mean I didn't have a good time? Some people didn't make the presentation by Tim. Does that make their experience incomplete?

I'd rather see more structured stuff, like the wedding and reception, like the presentation. One was social, the other was educational, but both were structured. And they both made it much easier for those of us who aren't exactly social butterflies to mingle and connect.

People have mentioned that there are tons of HIV/AIDS conferences, and they don't want this to become one. I think there is room for both, here. Certianly we are placed in the midst of the power-hitters in the HIV/AIDS medical/journalism/activist movement. To not take full advantage of that amazing opportunity is simply criminal.

Which does not mean that, for those who have zero interest in pursuing the educational aspects, a good time can't be had. I for one would just like to see more opportunities, not less. And more positive stuff, pun intended.

I honestly don't even understand why there is acrimony at all here. Why not let people compose their own music here, and invite those who want to dance to do so.  I would not be inclined to go to a gathering with zero structure except for pub crawling. And I imagine people would not like to go to a gathering with structured events at the expense of free social time and opportunity. And there is absolutely no reason why either of these draconian measures need be implemented.

Proof positive, Montreal. We had both structured and non structured events. No attendance was taken, and no one felt obligated to go to everything. All I am hoping is that we expand the opportunities next year, not limit them.

"Many people, especially in the gay community, turn to oral sex as a safer alternative in the age of AIDS. And with HIV rates rising, people need to remember that oral sex is safer sex. It's a reasonable alternative."

-Kimberly Page-Shafer, PhD, MPH

Welcome Thread

Offline David_CA

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  • Posts: 3,232
  • Joined: March 2006
Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #41 on: August 30, 2006, 08:05:36 PM »
Jonathan,

I agree that we should have some of both.  Socials, pub crawls and the like, are easy to arrange.  Some of the more 'structured' events will definitely take a lot more planning.  That's not to say that they can't be planned.  Maybe those who have specific interests in a topic can organize that particular event.  I'm sure Ric and Thom organized most of the wedding, as it was certainly their event.  If there's a topic YOU think would be of interest, maybe it's something that you can arrange.  Maybe you can be the speaker for that particular seminar; you certainly have a lot of knowledge of HIV and AIDS! 

Actually, I think the word 'seminar' is too structured.  Maybe 'discussions' or 'topics of the day' would be better descriptions.  Personally, I think this Gathering was wonderful.  I'd hate to see it change too much in nature.  Subtle improvements here and there would always be good, though. 

David
Black Friday 03-03-2006
03-23-06 CD4 359 @27.4% VL 75,938
06-01-06 CD4 462 @24.3% VL > 100,000
08-15-06 CD4 388 @22.8% VL >  "
10-21-06 CD4 285 @21.9% VL >  "
  Atripla started 12-01-2006
01-08-07 CD4 429 @26.8% VL 1872!
05-08-07 CD4 478 @28.1% VL 740
08-03-07 CD4 509 @31.8% VL 370
11-06-07 CD4 570 @30.0% VL 140
02-21-08 CD4 648 @32.4% VL 600
05-19-08 CD4 695 @33.1% VL < 48 undetectable!
08-21-08 CD4 725 @34.5%
11-11-08 CD4 672 @39.5%
02-11-09 CD4 773 @36.8%
05-11-09 CD4 615 @36.2%
08-19-09 CD4 770 @38.5%
11-19-09 CD4 944 @33.7%
02-17-10 CD4 678 @39.9%  
06-03-10 CD4 768 @34.9%
09-21-10 CD4 685 @40.3%
01-10-11 CD4 908 @36.3%
05-23-11 CD4 846 @36.8% VL 80
02-13-12 CD4 911 @41.4% VL<20
You must be the change you want to see in the world.  Mahatma Gandhi

Offline J.R.E.

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  • Posts: 6,960
  • Joined Dec-2003 Living positive, since 1985.
Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #42 on: August 30, 2006, 08:48:44 PM »
I honestly don't see why we can't have stuff available for people who want seminars (which would of COURSE be available to the forums... we're not talking about hoarding information, only having a real-life roundtable discussion).



Hello Jonathan,

Maybe you had misunderstood me. I didn't  mean to make it sound as though these seminars would " Hoard" information. But even you said in another thread, you enjoyed Tim Horns presentation, Which i have read nothing about yet !I am not even sure of the content. Nobody mentioned anything about it. All I am saying is that if seminars are held, someone is going to have to take the time to bring that information here to the forum, for the rest of us.



The Best------Ray
Current Meds ; Viramune, Epzicom, 40mg of simvastatin, 12.5mg of Hydrochlorothiazide.
Metoprolol tartrate 25mg



http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=40802.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=45159.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=39722.msg495621;topicseen#msg495621

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=46806.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=39414.msg491701#msg491701


 In October of 2003, My t-cell count was 16, Viral load was over 500,000, Percentage at that time was 5%. I started my first  HAART regimen  on October 24th,03.

 As of DEC 9th, 2013,  t-cells are at 437 Viral load  <40 .

 Current % is at 16% (L)

  
 62 years young.

Offline Jody

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,781
Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #43 on: August 30, 2006, 09:07:32 PM »
Hi Ray...Tim Horn's presentation in Montreal regarding the conference in Toronto that Any Velez also participated in consited in part of a discussion of new drugs coming down thje pipeline, advocacy regarding making them more available and affordable, HIV testing for all without stigma and the ever growing advocacy coming from women regarding their own health issues as affected by HIV, particularly in Africa...It was a good, educational break from our good time had by all in the city north of the border and gave us some purpose toward our ultimate goal of better treatments for all and hopefully a cure.

Jody
"Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world".
 "Try to discover that you are the song that the morning brings."

Grateful Dead

Offline J.R.E.

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  • Posts: 6,960
  • Joined Dec-2003 Living positive, since 1985.
Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #44 on: August 31, 2006, 08:19:36 AM »
Hello Jody,

 Thanks for that. I was just surprised that a thread had not been started regarding Tim Horns presentation,or Andy Velez presentation I did not see much mentioned, except for equipment failure..., unless of course I missed something.

My partner gives about 8, two hour seminars a year, (in his field of expertise) and he loves to hear the verbal feedback, after these seminars. a survey is also given out to all participants attending, so that that he can see what people want to hear and perhaps, what they don't want to hear, the next time around. He enjoys reading the surveys, and appreciates the feedback.


Ray
Current Meds ; Viramune, Epzicom, 40mg of simvastatin, 12.5mg of Hydrochlorothiazide.
Metoprolol tartrate 25mg



http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=40802.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=45159.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=39722.msg495621;topicseen#msg495621

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=46806.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=39414.msg491701#msg491701


 In October of 2003, My t-cell count was 16, Viral load was over 500,000, Percentage at that time was 5%. I started my first  HAART regimen  on October 24th,03.

 As of DEC 9th, 2013,  t-cells are at 437 Viral load  <40 .

 Current % is at 16% (L)

  
 62 years young.

Offline Trish

  • Member
  • Posts: 332
Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #45 on: August 31, 2006, 09:42:52 AM »
I feel that both a social gathering & an informational type thing are fine.  Too much seminar-like theme though and I feel we lose the essence of people getting together to just hangout, get to know one another and have some fun.  Seminars are fine, but I don't think we should go overboard.  Just sayin'.

Structured events are fine too, but again, let's not go overboard on this too.  Perhaps some flexibility would suffice.  For example, one, or two at the most, structured events per day for those who are interested, with a seminar, or whatever we call it, thrown in somewhere along the way.  This way some free time can be had for those who want to venture out alone or in a group to sightsee or whatever and not feel obligated to attend such events...  Again, just sayin'.

And, at the risk of getting bashed for my next comments, I'd like for all of you to please keep an open mind as I make a recommendation.  As for the venue of the next gathering, I'd like to suggest that we not stay in a "mostly" gay orientated town.  I'm not being phobic here or anything of the like, which I'm sure some of you may get that impression.  I'm very open minded and quite flexible.  My concern is that it may keep some of us who are living with HIV from "not" attending and miss out on the experience of being with other pos people, and there are many people who are quite isolated in their own hometowns.  Also, I know it wasn't easy for John as a hetero man (who is very open-minded) to be in such an arena -- he was out of his element, so to speak.  Both Toronto & Montreal were held in predominantly gay villages of which I attended both, and watching the goings-on makes some of us a bit uneasy.  We really don't need to see it all.  I feel that we could make some adjustments and please the majority.  Please keep in mind that the face of HIV/AIDS has changed -- we see it here on the forums firsthand.  Just my thoughts.

I like the idea of a resort type venue and such.  Dan J came up with some good stuff (thanks Dan) and I'll be researching this in the next week and make my proposal to that effect.
"People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is buit."  Eleanor Roosevelt

Offline Robert

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  • Posts: 2,639
Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #46 on: August 31, 2006, 10:16:45 AM »
Trish is spot on with her comments, especally the last one.  Remember, these gatherings are for People Living with HIV/AIDS.  Gay and straight.  Although most of us are gay, that doesn't mean it should center around a gay venue.  I certainly wouldn't want to go to Hooters every night.

robert
..........

Offline AlanBama

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  • 'class' of '87
Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #47 on: August 31, 2006, 10:59:19 AM »
I agree with Trish 100%

I had a great time, and have no regrets......but I see that some were perhaps "uncomfortable" with the area we were in and the "scenery" they were subjected to. 

Alan
"Remember my sentimental friend that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." - The Wizard of Oz

Offline RAB

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  • Joined March 2003
Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #48 on: August 31, 2006, 12:30:18 PM »
Hi Trish

I don't think either you or John have a prejudiced bone in your body.  "just saying"

When you first brought this up to me in Montreal, I thought "yeah, I can see how that's an important point".  Shouldn't be too hard to address and find a more "neutral" venue.

THEN I got home and started looking at some of the photos.  Particularly recalling the scenes outside the hotel, when we were gathered as a large group, either waiting for the next arrival or waiting to go somewhere. 

I recalled some of the embraces, kisses, attire, that attendees experienced/wore.

They were free to express themselves openly and honestly.  Either on that street, in the hotel, or in restaurants.

I don't think any of that could have occured had we not stayed in a "gay friendly" environment.


It just seems it's easier for you and John to express your affections for one another in a gay friendly environment, then it will ever be for gay men to do so in a non gay friendly environment.

I wish it wasn't that way.

I haven't got a clue as to how we find more balance on this one.  But I think it's good we're discussing it.  Thanks for having the courage to bring it up. 

(Homophobic?  not a chance!)

RAB



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Offline David_CA

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Re: Here's a thought to consider
« Reply #49 on: August 31, 2006, 01:11:02 PM »
Rocky, you bring up a good point.  One thing that D and I enjoyed so much was being able to hold hands occasionally as we walked down the street.  The only other place we get to do this is in our house or at the gay campground (where we're headed shortly). 

Trish, I'm sorry John felt uncomfortable, and I don't want to sound like I'm discounting your and Johns opinions and feelings.  I saw lots of what appeared to be straight couples walking the streets.  Many large metropolitan areas are much more liberal towards things like this.  I'm not going to be like a lot of gay guys and say "now he knows what we feel like every day", 'cause wronging one person doesn't make it any more ok to wrong another.  I would say that we (D & I) feel comfortable every where we go; we just don't get to act like we're a couple.  That includes walking down the street in our home town or almost any other place in the US.  I'll also add that being in an environment where we (gay men) feel comfortable is more likely to cause more gay men to attend in the future.  I know it's hard to balance gay vs straight comfort, etc.  Out of the approximately 40 attendees, the vast majority were gay.  Having said that, perhaps a less gay section of a gay friendly town would work, too.  We did have a blast and loved Montreal.

David
Black Friday 03-03-2006
03-23-06 CD4 359 @27.4% VL 75,938
06-01-06 CD4 462 @24.3% VL > 100,000
08-15-06 CD4 388 @22.8% VL >  "
10-21-06 CD4 285 @21.9% VL >  "
  Atripla started 12-01-2006
01-08-07 CD4 429 @26.8% VL 1872!
05-08-07 CD4 478 @28.1% VL 740
08-03-07 CD4 509 @31.8% VL 370
11-06-07 CD4 570 @30.0% VL 140
02-21-08 CD4 648 @32.4% VL 600
05-19-08 CD4 695 @33.1% VL < 48 undetectable!
08-21-08 CD4 725 @34.5%
11-11-08 CD4 672 @39.5%
02-11-09 CD4 773 @36.8%
05-11-09 CD4 615 @36.2%
08-19-09 CD4 770 @38.5%
11-19-09 CD4 944 @33.7%
02-17-10 CD4 678 @39.9%  
06-03-10 CD4 768 @34.9%
09-21-10 CD4 685 @40.3%
01-10-11 CD4 908 @36.3%
05-23-11 CD4 846 @36.8% VL 80
02-13-12 CD4 911 @41.4% VL<20
You must be the change you want to see in the world.  Mahatma Gandhi

 


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