Love note writing at AIDS 2014: What have we lost? What have we gained?

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I was enroute to The International AIDS Conference/AIDS 2014 in Melbourne, Australia when news of downed flight MH17 reached my inbox, twitter and facebook feeds. Upon arriving in Melbourne 23 hours later and setting up the love note writing planned with the Women’s Networking Zone, the Global Village organizers gave me an entire wall for the love note exhibit to offer space for the intensity of feelings, emotions and desires enveloping the start of the conference.

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For five days the 14,000 AIDS 2014 participants wrote notes to the HIV epidemic, documenting what has been lost and what has been gained. I’ve written love notes with thousands of people, and this was the first time I interacted with people from so many different countries and continents in one venue: Sri Lanka, Belgium, Australia, Nepal, Uganda, South Africa, Kenya, Italy, France, the United States, Brazil. Rarely did someone ask for an explanation…..folks approached the notes on display with reverence, some taking photos, and then came to lean over and offer their own note. A beautiful “get love. give love.” experience honoring our commonality. I’m very grateful to the many people who helped tend this love note altar during the week – the very same folks tending to public health in our cities and villages. Oh, the love.

 

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