26 July 2012 – The View from Here: Closing the Community Rapporteur Experience

I was lucky enough to be selected to be a Rapporteur for the International AIDS Conference in the Community Track. When I was first approached, I was warned away from it – people said it was “too much work” and “crazy.” In the interest of demystifying the process: there are several rapporteur tracks (I’m not clear on the various tracks) and they are responsible for writing up summaries of sessions related to the track. Since I’m in the Community track, that list is wide open. The Community track is, from what I can tell, interested in translating or summarizing the conference for people living with HIV/AIDS. We are a small, diverse crew – from the UK, the US and Mexico (not counting our various migration or immigration roots). These summaries are 200-300 words long. Often the real problem is distilling the session down to a smaller summary.

The Rapportuers have to upload their reports by 6 p.m. everyday. We have access to a computer room that is always full of complimentary refreshments (and lunch). Our registration is also included as part of the Rapporteur exchange (a saving of about $750 USD or so). In addition, the Community Track is comprised of an amazing, brilliant crew of people – most have an activist bent. All in all, it was a great way to be introduced to the International AIDS Conference. To apply to be a Rapportuer for 2014 Melbourne’s conference, go to the International AIDS Society website.

These kinds of opportunities are important – to add your view on this mega-conference, to summarize the events for people who were not able to attend, to have a refuge from the mania of HIV’s version of Comic-Con (the San Diego comic book conference bonanza). I also appreciated meeting Garry, Memory, Terje and Pablo – and working with Laurel Sprague again. It’s a tiny contribution to the International AIDS Conference, but for most of us, it’s enough.

Written by Dr. Andrew Spieldenner

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