Lyn @ 3rd SA Aids Conference. Durban. 5-8/06/07

Lyn attended the conference on behalf of CABSA:

I would like to share some first impressions with you.

 To me it seems as if the 3rd SA Aids conference started today in a very different atmosphere to the 2nd conference two years ago. It really seems as if a new spirit of cooperation is palpable. My first experience two years ago came as quite a shock. As a neophyte in the field I was amazed at the amount of negativity between different sectors and groups.

Since the Civil Society Summit late last year, the change in attitudes have become increasingly clear. It seems as if the rift between government and many civil society groups really have been healed. I can not begin to count how many times today I heard NSP – and most of it positive.

The inclusion of a large number of role players in the drafting of the National Strategic Plan 2007-2011 probably played a significant role in making this ‘our’ plan, South Africa’s plan, and probably contributed significantly to the positive attitude experienced today. Many of the pre-conference sessions focussed in some or other way on the plan and some of the challenges of making it work. The role and involvement of the community in the success of the plan was emphasised.

This is a theme that was also mentioned in many of the speeches in the opening session. Dr Shisana sketched the worrying realities and challenges of the South African situation in her introductory speech. She clearly indicated that the trends will have be turned around, specifically where the youth is concerned.

It was very powerful to hear the beautiful voices of the OSCA choir asking for change; the powerful rally call for societal change of a proudly positive activist; the plea of Mrs Machel for individuals and communities to address stigma, Dr Piot’s statement that for HIV programmes in the world to succeed, it is necessary for South Africa to succeed; Gcina Mhlope’s story of the ‘two Africa’s coming together; and Deputy President’s Mlambo Ngcuka’s emphasis on the role of all the sectors of society.

Throughout the day, the theme that I heard was "together", "all of us", "our responsibility", "our role", "we need everyone".

It is sad that the Minister of Health pulling out of the conference seems the one point picked up by the media, and not the general spirit of cooperation reflected in all the other sessions.

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