If you’ve ever had any doubts that international aid or global health is a business, then one visit to an International AIDS Conference will clear them away. Between the free frozen yogurt from big pharma and bookend speeches from the Clintons, it was hard to ignore what a “sexy” disease HIV was last week in Washington D.C.
I had arrived to the venue about an hour before I was to give the presentation to about 80 people from 30 some countries. The prior session was full of “shoulds” and summaries and the inability of some to relinquish the mic once they got it. As a result, people were staring off, visibly bored, as in many aid meetings. Even when the discussion got heated, it was merely an abstraction for many people in the room who were not part of the “in the know” group.