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Author Topic: Staying Alive Conference Summary and other Conferences...  (Read 1242 times)

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Offline terpie82

  • Member
  • Posts: 100
Staying Alive Conference Summary and other Conferences...
« on: September 21, 2007, 08:59:13 AM »
Hi all,
I apologize for the delayed response as I promised to provide a summary of the conference almost a month ago. A lot has happened in the last 4 weeks. University of Maryland just inaugurated our new Bioscience Research Building, which cost $72 million and includes research from many fields including human pathogens and diseases (including HIV), microbiology, plant biology, etc. I was lucky enough to lead and organize my lab into our new setting before the big opening that was covered by many media stations including NBC, FOX, CBS, and CNN. And of course this comes at a dismal time as federal financial support for scientific research has dramatically decreased since the start of the Bush administration, but the state's budget allowed for the building as Maryland is now rated the wealthiest state in the Union (http://money.cnn.com/2007/08/28/real_estate/wealthiest_states/).

Now to summarize the Staying Alive Conference in Cleveland: It was really an educational experience as the Youths were put through many training sessions such as dealing with media, public speaking, healthy living, photography and imagery, and a creative writing workshop. I'd have to say that my favorite was the writing workshop. We were given composition note books and asked to close our eyes, imagine our country during war-time and that all persons that were HIV+ were locked up in a concentration camp and we all could only send out one letter to one person outside of the camp. We then opened our eyes and wrote and here was what I wrote (I wrote this to my partner):

Dear Nathan,
This being war-time, I need to let you know that you have been there for me since the beginning and that I will alway be with you until the end. Your love towards me ahs been unwavering, symbolic of eternity and infinity, as well as honest and representative of what true love is. you have renewed my sense of self-worth, my confidence, and my determination to succeed in life so that we can one day share a life together that is free from stigmatism, despise, and fear. This is what motivates me to strive to continue to live, despite hard times. you love me without judgement, fear, and contemplation...and for that I love you. You encourage me to grow in more way than one...and for that I love you. You opened your heart and home unconditionally...for that I love you. You treated me with respect...and for that I love you -when other did not do so...and for that I love you.

Another activity we did was to say what I want the world to see me as:
I would like the world to see me as another individual who has similiar career and life aspirations and expectations, and that I am just as important to society as everyone else. Sure I may have HIV, but that does not diminish my person contributions nor affect my personal quality. I don't need pity or sympathy, nor do I need segregation or persecution. I just need respect, equal rights, and fair treatment for all things humane.

The conference was overall a success. Another topic the conference covered was what the new Ryan White Act will look like. Unfortunately, I wasn't at the other adult conference seminars because the conference chose to separate the youths from the adults (when I say separate, our seminars were two blocks away from the adult portion), which I found was a bad idea. Being 25 years old, I also found that I was disconnected with the youths (who were in their teens) and with the adults (who were mostly 40+). I would have liked to choose which seminars to attend instead of having it planned out for me. One great thing was I was able to network and met Mike Waldmiller, who works for the CDC. We talked, exchanged contact information, and he convinced me to attend a scientific conference governed by the CDC once every two years involving new and current research in the HIV field, and this year's theme is prevention http://www.2007nhpc.org/backgroundinfo.asp. This is a career move (as I have another year or so left for my PhD in Biology) and allows me to network with other scientists to learn more about current clinical research and trials, I must attend as I see myself working as a scientist for either NIH or the CDC. Itís about time we have an HIV+ scientist working to find a cure/effective treatment  ;) . The only concern I currently have is the expense as the conference fee is $400 (before November 8) + $129/night for lodging (for 4 nights) adds up to almost a grand. I propose that we develop a Conference Fund for our members to attend such conferences and in return, the attending member can provide a detailed summary of what they learned.

Another conference I thought of attending is the 2007 United States Conference on Aids, which will be in November http://www.nmac.org/conferences___trainings/USCA/. Because of cost issues, I have to choose one and this one is less scientific but will probably be more beneficial since it covers a lot of HIV related issues such as health management, etc. If anyone has a chance to attend this conference, please do so as it looks to be extremely informative! OK, I realized I've typed too long a message and bravo to you if you read this far.

Diagnosed in 2003
UD since 2004 and >35%
Three-month treatment interruption for NIH study and back on Stribild 1/8/16

Offline kellyspoppi

  • Member
  • Posts: 153
Re: Staying Alive Conference Summary and other Conferences...
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2007, 04:34:40 PM »

thanks for the thorough report. having attended last years staying alive conference in new orleans on a scholarship, i too, had to give a thorough report to the network who provided my scholarship.

i understand what your request is for attending conferences, but just be aware. years of budget cuts, and especially now with medical outcomes being attached to almost all ryan white monies, there aren't many agencies willing to provide scholarship money for plwa's to attend  conferences. you might have a better shot asking the person, who asked you to go,  to see if his organization will pay for all or a portion of your scholarship. monies are tight in the aids field. >:(

another option is your local chapter of the names project, but it will come usually with a price, which isn't a bad thing. they may want you to agree to give them a thorough report and serve as a speaker at a future quilt display. they are looking for more young people to tell their stories to the high schools and colleges who come to view the panels, and quite frankly, 25 year olds identify more closely with them than someone my age (56). i'm not sure what city you live in but many of the large cities on the east coast have local chapters of the names project. go on to their website to locate a chapter near you.

the last option is the conference themselves. most usually offer scholarship money to attendees in need. when you regester they usually have an application for funding you can fill out, but those scholarships are few and far between.

at staying alive this year, was the "positive project" there filming plwa stories for the "our dignity.com" website? i'd be curious to know, as i did mine in new orleans.

locally, our plwa advisory group has made a concerted effort to reach out to younger plwa's to try to get their fedback where they feel they are being underserved. i think it is a shame if they didn't allow time for a forum in which long term survivors could hear about the needs of the infected youth at the conference, because usually the LTS"s are the ones who attend "aidswatch" and state run "aids awareness days". we need more imput from young people to make sure their voices are heard in washington, as well as on a local & state level.

good luck in your quest.



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