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Hear directly from the CARE staff, volunteers and advocates who are on the ground and in the field around the globe.

Notes From A Conference Veteran

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Helene Gayle, MD, MPH, President and CEO, CARE USA, shares her thoughts from the ground at theXVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City.

The International AIDS conferences have been a running timeline for the response to the epidemic and a marker for evolution in my own career, and this week's International AIDS Conference is one of the biggest – almost 25,000 delegates. I remember the first International AIDS Conference, in 1985 in Atlanta, as a gathering of a few hundred people, mostly scientists, just coming to grips with a new and baffling disease.

Over the intervening years, the conference has come to represent a much broader group of people engaged in this struggle – as we've come to understand that we cannot fight AIDS without taking into account the social and economic factors that drive the epidemic.

Longtime veterans of these meetings sometimes forget what a powerful experience it can be for those attending for the first time. Especially for people living with HIV and AIDS, and members of hard-hit communities, it's incredibly empowering to be among thousands of others dedicating their lives to the cause. Just meeting my CARE colleagues from around the world, who work day and night fighting the epidemic in their home countries, gives me a renewed sense of energy for this work. They represent for me the hope that is at the heart of this conference.

Dr. Helene Gayle, President and CEO, CARE USA, speaking at the 2008 AIDS conference in Mexico City.

Photo credit: CARE/Rick Perera

Posted by webmaster on Aug 7, 2008 6:33 PM US/Eastern

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