Behind the Pandemic

Continuing with the barrage of learning opportunities, I participated in a workshop on the connection between HIV/AIDS and social inequity at HIV Edmonton today. It was a small group of fifteen, but perhaps it was more conducive towards a sharing environment. There was a wide variety of people present, from university students, Streetworks and STD Centre staff to a medical anthropologist.

The facilitators went through an educational resource kit from the International Coalition on AIDS and Development (ICAD) titled “Behind the HIV/AIDS Pandemic” (downloadable online!). The kit uses a hands-on approach to uncover the differences between vulnerabilities, risks, and impacts in relation to the AIDS pandemic. One of the more unique activities included a simulation, where tables in a room represented different areas of the world, including Eastern Europe/Central Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and generic High-income Regions. The object of the activity involved building a 10 x 10 square from geometric pieces akin to a tangram, with success ultimately requiring cooperation between regions, and extreme negotiation with those in the privileged area as they held the only pair of scissors and roll of tape in trust. Hilariously, when all groups gathered to compare task results, it ended up that the High-income Region was the only one who failed to complete their square (they had gotten so comfortable with having other areas approach them that they figured there was no need to read the instructions in any detail).

All in all, it was a worthwhile day – it’s always great to meet people and learn at the same time!

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