Big Names Prominent speakers included Nancy Pelosi, Bill Clinton, Kathleen Sebelius, Hillary Clinton, and Sir Elton John.
International Community of Women Living With HIV/AIDS. She registered optimism, but impa- tience and anger, too, wondering aloud why the global AIDS community comes together every two years only to ask the same questions. “Ask your- self,” she said to her audience, “why are women [in the developing world] still stigmatized in terms of resources? … Why do women living with HIV face forced sterilization? Ask yourself again, why are we still delaying basic sex education? … It is time to make waves. We need to look with new eyes at old problems.” And that’s what makes the International AIDS
Conference so different. Rigorously scientific at its core — Katabira estimated that 70 percent of the sessions at AIDS 2012 would discuss new research findings — the meeting serves an agenda shaped in large part by a vocal, hands-on, historically angry activist community that was responsible for drag- ging the issue into the light when the world was largely ignoring it. It’s their conference as much as it’s the scientists’, the patients’, the families’, and the aid workers’ conference. So how do you put together a program that
serves all of them? “A
ll of your shows, you learn something. But this of any show — if it’s coming to your city, if you don’t go see it [in
advance], you don’t know what you’re expecting,” said James Smith, assistant director of conven- tion management for Events DC, who along with Events DC Senior Vice President and General Manager Samuel Taylor attended AIDS 2010 in Vienna in preparation for working on AIDS 2012. “I don’t think I’ve ever been to an event that, from beginning to end, anyone involved with it is as passionate about what’s going on there. It’s acted out upon, it’s displayed, it’s talked about — in every way, shape, or form.” That passion infused a sprawling show with a
lot of moving parts. From July 22–27, AIDS 2012 drew nearly 24,000 participants from more than 180 countries, including more than 2,000 media professionals, working out of a 24-hour media cen- ter at Walter E. Washington, and 1,000 volunteers.