HIV R4P

Nope, this is not a rapper’s name, it was the conference I went to in Cape Town, South Africa.

HIV Research For Prevention was partially sponsored by IAVI. I was invited to both help represent my site at KAVI as well as explain how IAVI and GSK partner up to assist worldwide. I met with many IAVI employees from around the world. I was also introduced to some of the leaders in the field of HIV research. Personally, I felt I did an amazing job pretending I too am an expert on HIV. “You have been studying HIV since the ‘80s? Well I was born in the ‘80s and have been studying HIV for five months. So yes, I would love to compare our findings.” This was obviously not an actual conversation and I was lucky that there was almost always at least one other person (i.e. real expert) in the conversation with me.

I could talk about how great the conference was (probably the best conference I have ever attended), but you really just want to see pictures of Cape Town.

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Here is the extremely brief summary:

  • Developing nations (mainly African countries) continue to be under equip with accurate knowledge about virus transmission and lack medical supplies.
  • Developed countries are of course at high risk, but most have an insurance plan to cover HIV treatment. People with HIV can live a mostly unaffected life if given early treatment.
  1. Which groups need to be addressed
    1. Minority groups such as sex workers, transgender, and men who have sex with men are at high risk but are underrepresented in clinical trials
    2. Advertisements for preventative measures are not directed towards these groups
  2. Where should the the focus be going
    1. Further research with preventative medicines such as antivirals (remember this is a ‘research for prevention’ conference)
    2. Reduced cost to consumer to make preventative medicines a possibility for any budget
    3. Male circumcision (personal note: at birth. The Maasai perform male circumcision at age 13 *cringe* as a progression of the boy becoming a man)
    4. Female empowerment with additional birth control options such as female condoms or diaphragms with anti-HIV gel coating

The conference started on Monday so I arrived Saturday for a bit of sight-seeing.

Camps Bay

The outside temperature was perfect: averaging around 75 F, but the water is extremely cold (probably around 55 F).

Day Tour of the Peninsula

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The Cape of Good Hope is the tip of the African peninsula. This is where they tell tourists the Atlantic and Indian Ocean meet (it really joins further east).

Table Mountain
Table Mountain
Boulders Beach
Boulders Beach

Morning Shark Cage Dive

I do not have a waterproof camera so I do not have any pictures  😦

It was cool to see great white sharks chomp on chum from a very close distance. The water was freezing though.



The five of us PULSE volunteers based in Nairobi have been taking Swahili lessons. Now I can comfortably stay greetings, tell people what I am eating, and negotiate prices (using only some numbers). I also know how to say soldier, which makes the rent-a-guards that patrol my apartment complex very happy when I upgrade their job role.

The language is rather simple and I wish I took lessons back in August because I suspect I would be able to hold full conversations by now. Because a lot of people in Nairobi combine Swahili and English in the same sentence, it often makes it even easier. There are some interesting parts that I now understand a lot better. Such as:

You may hear someone speaking in English say “Me I am going shopping.” (note: NOT: Me? I am going shopping). This is because the exact Swahili translation for anything about oneself is “Me I am…”

Here is one fast food chain that makes a Swahili-English pun. Kuku means chicken.

Chicken
We are “kuku” about chicken!

In Swahili they don’t usually say the word “hello” (except to tourists: “Jambo”). The basic greetings start with “how are you?”

So when I say, in English, “hello” or “good morning,” Most people will respond with “I am fine.”

Then there are the words that have multiple meanings. This is common with any language, but there are some sentences where context is crucial to understanding the meaning:

The word ‘nyanya’ means both tomato and grandma. So: ‘Sisi ni kula nyanya’ means either: we are eating tomatoes OR grandma. Let’s hope context clues solve that mystery quickly.

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