Off to UNAIDS workshop in Bangkok

Tomorrow morning I head off to Bangkok for a two-day workshop on “Thinking Politically About HIV.” Kent Buse from UNAIDS and Dennis Altman from Latrobe university in Australia are bringing together a bunch of political scientists,  policy scholars who write about politics, and several political actors, especially regional directors of UNAIDS, to discuss how various political forces have shaped responses to the epidemic.

I am looking forward to the meeting. Lately, I’ve found myself writing about a lot of dismal stories on African development, and while the AIDS pandemic is still a monumental challenge, there’s actually a great deal of good news, including increases in risk-conscious behavior, greater treatment access, and lowered HIV incidence in many countries. The theme of the workshop is how to harness politics for good, and indeed, political activism has played a very positive role in the global response to AIDS. In the next couple of days, I will try to write about some of the key themes or findings, assuming the discussions are not embargoed. In any case, I’ll post some of my comments… which I need to finish on the plane-ride over… which will attempt to define the ambiguous terms “political will” and “political commitment,” and to share some of my research on municipal councilors in South Africa.

I am not looking forward to the TRIP, however. There are no longer direct flights from New York, so I’ll fly to Tokyo and then connect to Bangkok — I leave at 3pm, arrive close to midnight the next day, wake up and do two days of workshopping, then depart for the airport at around 330am to catch a 6am flight back to Narita, and then back home. I am hoping this trip will be so quick I won’t have time to feel the jetlag…

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