More Grease to Your Elbows!
Proud Member of IRMA Puts Rectal Microbicides
on the African Map
Correspondence from IRMA advocates
by way of India
M2008 memories and the path forward
by Lanre Onigbogi
I had always wondered what it would be like visiting the Asian continent and M2008 provided that opportunity. As a rectal microbicide advocate and an IRMA scholarship recipient, the challenge could not be bigger because there was so much to look forward to about the conference. The excitement was further heightened by the fact that my exposure to rectal microbicide sessions at M2006 had generated my venturing into research related to rectal microbicides. I wondered whether my exposure to the rectal microbicides sessions in this meeting will heighten my curiosity about the subject or totally dampan my enthusiasm. In summary, I was not disappointed and could not have wished for a better conference.
The apprehension about how the rectal microbicide sessions and how to combine that with the volunteer efforts at the advocate corner was too overwhelming to be hidden from colleagues who were also participants at the meeting. This was heightened by the fact that I had made up my mind to talk to some Nigerian delegates about the International Rectal Microbicide Advocates (IRMA), an area that was hitherto novel to many of my colleagues.
Anecdotal reports put it that many who came without ever hearing about rectal microbicides ended up signing up to be advocates.
The M2008 conference itself was a great success. If we can learn from this conference and support the development of research on microbicides and convince investors to invest more in these, it would be a great achievement. There were also many youths, especially really dynamic ones from Africa who I believe will grow up to become great advocates. Simply put, youths are the best investment in the future of our nations, as they are healthy and fresh workers. The rectal microbicide agenda was also a greater success. Anecdotal reports put it that many who came without ever hearing about rectal microbicides ended up signing up to be advocates. Quite an achievement bearing in mind the stigma that is still associated with homosexual relationships in many parts of the world.
We need to look at the research agenda of the conference so that African universities can do operations research and evaluate their rectal microbicide programs. I look forward to a cohort of researchers and advocates who will come out of Africa and will collaborate to get funding for rectal microbicide research and advocacy.
Since coming back from Delhi, I have picked up the responsibility of editing the Quarterly Newsletter of the Nigeria HIV Vaccine and Microbicides Advocacy Group (NHVMAG) called the NHVMAG Echoes. We are in the final stages of producing the newsletter that will highlight activities at M2008, and the success of advocacy efforts by IRMA will be showcased. I also look forward to participating in the rectal microbicide sesions of the AIDS 2008 conference in Mexico City later in the year as well as further involvement in rectal microbicide research and advocacy.
My heartfelt gratitude goes to the steering committee of IRMA and the indefatigable Jim Pickett for working tirelessly to put the rectal microbicide agenda on the main table, thereby potentially saving many valuable lives of African women and men.
More grease to your elbows!
I am proud to belong to IRMA and will forever be grateful for this wonderful opportunity to attend M2008 and look forward to seeing you all in Pittsburgh!