If this new conference’s logo, which now is subtitled: “Shaping the Science of Prevention” had room for another line, it would be a reminder that goes way back, that some, in fact, have been saying since the very beginning.
“HIV research progress will only succeed where human rights are respected,” conference co-chair Dr. Helen Rees said again today. It is a fact that has driven much of what brought people from around the world together here, and that has been repeated already multiple times — in the context of treatment and pre-exposure prophylactic use of antiretroviral medicine, in the context of vaginal and rectal microbicides, in the context of clinical trial design and good participatory practices. As recognition that human rights are integral to making meaning out of research, the conference opened with a new award, named for an old crusader. And the inaugural Desmond Tutu Award for HIV Prevention and Human Rights went to Tutu himself. Tutu, who has included in his life-long battles against poverty and injustice a fight for testing, treatment and care for those most affected by HIV and TB, accepted the award via video, giggling as he laboriously spelled out HIV R4P.
His daughter, Reverend Mpho Tutu, who described herself as “the low testosterone version” of Archbishop Tutu, “also easier on the eyes,” picked up the award in person, also paying tribute to the conference acronym.
“Oh my goodness, I sound like a teenager,” she said. “LOL, OMG.”