A Bad Case Of The Barriers

Knowledge not exchanged nor transferred.


At this moment the 2014 Canadian Association for HIV Research is going on, and the conference website informs us that “With the 2014 theme of “Turning the Tide on HIV”, CAHR will have a stellar program of world-renowned speakers, allowing you to connect with researchers, frontline public health and community-based workers, policy makers, people living with HIV and AIDS and others interested in the field of HIV research.”

That’s nice.

Nice for world-renowned speakers.

That’s nice that they are allowing people to connect especially with people living with HIV and AIDS.

I maintain that HIV set the standard for inclusion, engagement and advocacy.   Those words have lost their true essence as they have now become operationalized and income streams for the pharmaceutical industry, academia and service organizations.

Times change and I accept that standards and principles, visions and values have corroded and are corrupted.

Silence = Death.

Here is my voice.

To enjoy the opportunity to connect with people and to share your research, someone has to pay for your airfare, your hotel, your food and free drink tickets.   Not a barrier for those affiliated with industry or institutions that fund them.

Of course the quality of research is paramount, not just anyone can present or for that matter, be present.

I am a person living with HIV and AIDS that had submitted an abstract for a research project that was accepted for a poster presentation.

All I know is today I am not connecting with anyone.  I am in bed with my pajamas on, it’s the first of the month and the sound I hear is the sound of another NSF fee and the noise of things bouncing.

There are Community Scholarships available and I accept that times are tough and they are not as generous or bountiful as they once were.  I understand that people living with HIV and AIDS have to compete to get the resources to attend.

I didn’t receive a scholarship and through my correspondence with the Scholarship Committee this is what I understand:

The knowledge that I have synthesized and volunteered to create for my research is of good quality and is presentable.

I, am a person, am not.

OK, I’ve heard that message a lot in my life, I’m a grown man. I can take it.

I think it’s fair that I understand what criteria is used to determine who receives a scholarship and who doesn’t.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask for transparency.

The application was not particularly difficult. It asked about my community involvement, my gender, which population at risk I identified with and if I was from an underrepresented community.

I was surprised that there was no question about economic status,  The cost of attending is a barrier that I believe should be factored into the scoring of applications.

It’s not.

Nevertheless, if research is something I wish to pursue and I wish to be strategic, it would be helpful for me to know how I could be a better person living with HIV and AIDS so that I can get a Community Scholarship too.

Here is the response to how I can empower and better myself I received from the Registration and Housing Manager of the 23rd Annual Canadian Conference on HIV/AIDS Research

Dear Harlon,

I am not able to provide you any further information on the Community Scholarship review and results.

I wanted to understand the process, to become better, to be sustainable, to not be the token, to improve my chances.

The response did not help me, I did not learn anything new because I already know how to say “go fuck yourself”.

I like how writer Douglas Adams says it better, and fitting with the conference theme, which is “Turning The Tide on HIV”, so long, and thanks for all the fish.