Call for Applications for EECA Networking Zone during AIDS 2018

Eastern European and Central Asian (EECA) communities will have their own Networking Zone in the Global Village during the 22nd International AIDS Conference AIDS 2018. Now it is time to fill in the Networking Zone with interesting events.

The organizing group, which included representatives of all key networks in the region, have worked out the key objectives for EECA Communities campaign, common for all communities in the region and on which all our efforts, events and actions will be aimed at during AIDS2018.

The objectives are:

  1. To demonstrate to the world the impact of repressive, discriminatory legislation and practices of their application, as well as stigma against key populations and people living with HIV (PLWH) in EECA on the effectiveness of the response to HIV/AIDS epidemic and people’s lives and to strive to create an enabling legal environment in EECA region.
  2. To show the consequences of excluding communities from planning, implementation, and evaluation of HIV/AIDS programs to effectively respond to the epidemic and to achieve commitments on the involvement of key populations and PLWH in decision-making processes.
  3. To demonstrate the negative consequences of reducing international support and unwillingness of EECA countries governments to switch to national funding, and to seek global assistance in mobilizing resources to stabilize HIV/AIDS epidemic in EECA.

The days of the EECA Networking Zone functioning in the Global Village are spread according to the objectives topics. Each day will include time slots for video projection/art/performance, meetings with decision-makers and joint actions in the framework of EECA Communities campaign.

Please send your applications for the events to natalia@harmreductioneurasia.org and daria_alexeeva@AFEW.nl, considering the below-mentioned criteria before June 5.

Selection criteria for the events and presentations to be included into the program of the EECA Networking Zone:

  1. Relevance to one of the campaign objectives/topics: the role of the communities in decision making, sustainable financing, and legal barriers.
  2. Wide coverage of the key populations (targeting more than one key population).
  3. The format should be suitable and should enhance the conditions and area of the networking zone 60m2 (examples are: discussion, briefing, action, performance etc.) and surrounding environment (Global Village).
  4. The duration between 45 and 90 minutes.
  5. The applicant shall be able to ensure participation of all announced speakers and will promote its event to attract the audience.
  6. The applicant shall be able to ensure the necessary equipment (if it lacks in the Networking Zone) – to bring it, install it and dismantle after the session/event.
  7. Joint submissions from several organizations are welcome.

The final decision on inclusion of submitted ideas into the EECA Networking Zone program will be based on the criteria mentioned above, and also on following the logic of the relevance to adjacent events and sessions.

Deadline Extended: AIDS 2018 – Call for Volunteers Speaking Russian

AFEW International with the support of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs implements a range of activities to empower Community Based Organisations (CBOs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), activists, policy makers, stakeholders, researchers and clinicians from Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region to take part in the XXII International AIDS Conference 2018 in Amsterdam (AIDS2018).

Eastern Europe and Central Asia is the only region in the world where the AIDS epidemic is on a steep rise. Whereas the whole world celebrates 50% decrease in the new cases of HIV, the EECA region has experienced almost 60% increase in annual new HIV infections between 2010 and 2015. In 2015, there were an estimated 1.5 million people living with HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The vast majority (85%) of people living with HIV in the region live in Russia and Ukraine.

Unfortunately, the EECA region has traditionally been underrepresented at the AIDS conferences. For instance, at the last International AIDS Conference in Durban, there were only 128 delegates from EECA region. Several barriers such as the costs of participation and language barrier led to a disproportionally lower presence of the delegates from EECA region at the AIDS conferences since its start.

As one of the means to tackle the language barrier AFEW International comes up with an initiative to build up a pool of language buddies – a group of enthusiastic people residing in the Netherlands, speaking English and Russian (the common language for the EECA region) who are willing to support delegates from EECA at the Conference.

Commitments:

  • You are available for volunteer work during the whole duration of the AIDS 2018 Conference, from 23 till 27 July 2018, and, if interested, available for preparatory work a week in advance prior to the conference.
  • You are available for three and a half days of up to four hours a day to volunteer on general tasks at the AIDS 2018 under coordination of the Volunteer Programme of the International AIDS Society, the conference Organizer.
  • Apart from the general tasks you are willing to be involved with language support to individuals and groups of delegates from the EECA region at the AIDS 2018 sessions, workshops, exhibition, Global Village, and other activities of the conference. Language support can take form of providing support in communication between delegates from EECA with other delegates – for instance in the Global Village area; whisper translation for small groups in some sessions; helping to find directions in the conference venue; etc.
  • The total amount of working time will not exceed 6 hours per day. The shift can start as early as 7 am and finish as late as 9:30 pm.

Language buddy qualification requirements:

  • You are older than 18 years old.
  • You have a good command of English and Russian. Dutch is an asset.
  • You are disciplined and responsible.
  • You are outgoing and interested in people from different background and cultures.
  • It is an asset if you have experience in dealing with sensitive issues when it comes to working with key groups such as gays, lesbians, bisexuals, people living with HIV, people using drugs, and any other specific features in people.

What you get as a volunteer:

  • As an AIDS 2018 volunteer, you will be able to attend the full conference programme outside of your volunteer shifts. This means you will have access to the full conference, such as the exhibition, satellite programme, plenaries and regular session as well as the workshops and other events and the possibility to network with higher officials from the international organisations.
  • Food vouchers will be provided for all the days you are volunteering at AIDS 2018.
  • A free crash course on language sensitivity will be provided a few weeks before the conference which will give you the advantage to freshen up your Russians skills, will help to feel confident with the specific vocabulary of the AIDS 2018 and provide opportunities to interact with peers.
  • There is no travel compensation, all commute costs to the Conference venue will be your responsibility.

Attention! Dealine extended! If you are ready to support as language buddy volunteer, please fill in this google form before 10 April 2018, and we will get in touch with you with further details. 

The AIDS 2018 Conference will take place at the Amsterdam RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre. Address: Europaplein 2-22, 1078 GZ Amsterdam.

The Digital Consultation from the Amsterdam Youth Force

Dutch Ambassador for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights & HIV/AIDS Lambert Grijns

We are glad to announce the digital consultation the Amsterdam Youth Force (AYF) is organising in the run up to 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018.) AIDS 2018 will be an important event in the road to fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Therefore, it is crucial that young people’s perspectives are heard in the lead up to the conference, which is why we a consultation to help produce position papers reflecting young people’s voices is being launched.

The consultation will build on the work the #UPROOT agenda documented by PACT, and Amsterdam Youth Force is currently investigating the best ways to do that. In the meantime, AYF is looking for volunteers to help with the project. They are specifically looking for:

  • Young people who speak both English and Russian, French, Arabic, Spanish or Chinese.
  • People who want to help manage and translate input in those languages and help write the papers.
  • People who are available for that from January until July 2018.

If you are interested in helping out, please let AYF know via advocacy.ayf@gmail.com. Then they will contact you to see how you can help.

AIDS 2018: Preparing for Registration and Submitting Abstracts

Author: Anna Tokar, Ukraine

The registration for the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) will symbolically start on December 1 – the World AIDS Day. The conference will gather scientists, political leaders, and people living with HIV from all around the world. One of the key objectives of AIDS 2018 is to spotlight the state of the epidemic and the HIV response in Eastern Europe and Central Asia with a focus on investments, structural determinants and services.

You can already start preparing for the registration for the Conference. Below you can find some important tips:

  • You will be asked to create your personal account – a webpage at the conference website – where you will need to put your key personal information (name, date of birth, education, etc.) Through this account you will submit your thesis or register for the Conference.
  • Registration can be individual or group (only applicable to the registration of five people or more.) The company or organization requesting a group registration must nominate one group representative who will administer the group communication with the Conference committee.
  • Usually, when applying for a scholarship, one should submit a cover letter with clear reasoning of why this scholarship is needed. Your personal details and passport data will be requested.

Scientific tracks

AIDS 2018 Conference will welcome submission of abstracts for original contribution to the field in the following scientific tracks:

Track A: Basic and Translational Research.

Track B: Clinical Research.

Track C: Epidemiology and Prevention Research.

Track D: Social and Political Research, Law, Policy and Human Rights.

Track E: Implementation Research, Economics, Systems and Synergies with other Health and Development Sectors.

Tips for writing a strong abstract

Even though there are no abstract guidelines yet available, you may consider developing a draft anyhow.

Language and grammar

The official language of the conference is English. Thus, all abstracts should be developed and presented only in the English language. The abstracts that are written well have higher chances to be selected by the Conference committee, regardless of their content. Grammar mistakes and typos will distract the reviewers from the actual study content. The reviewers might also wonder if the author is able to communicate study findings in the English language at all. For a non-native speaker, it might be quite difficult to spot all the mistakes or weird phrases. That is why we highly recommend asking for some assistance, for example from your English-speaking colleagues or friends. We also suggest to use the examples of previous conference abstracts and peer reviewed scientific papers. Studying them will help you to understand how to be succinct and informative at the same time. Besides, you might be able to see some useful linguistic construction and techniques.

Brevity is the soul of wit

The abstract should be short, yet informative. That is why you would need to have sufficient time to “pack” all the information into 300 words. If you plan to write an abstract in the last moment, you would not have time to think it through, and thus, most probably you would start “cutting.” As a result, you can end up with the text full of abbreviations, with one line of introduction and super reduced methods section, which will look like a broken puzzle.  Good abstract should be well-balanced, and all its sections should be connected and should smoothly tell the story to your reader. The reviewers would not appreciate any quizzes in your abstract, they would not guess what you mean or what you intend to say. Therefore, the text should be easy to follow, it should be reader-friendly and logically built. In other case, the reviewers might decide that the information provided in the abstract is not enough and simply reject your abstract.

Results will come later

The common problem of many people is to write the abstract without having data or analysis done. It is better not to write an abstract at all, if there are no results available. You also might consider using some previous data. Just try to have some new research questions in your abstract, or try to use a new analytical approach.

Prioritizing the key message

The abstract should be written in such a way, that a key message can be easily grasped. This key idea should be stated in the introduction as the study goal. It should also be presented in the methods, proved by the results, and finally, it should “crystalize” in the conclusion. Think it over for this type of task requires slow thinking and digesting.

Abbreviations and professional terms

Even though the reviewers should be familiar with commonly used abbreviations and professional terms, it is seen as a bad manner to use these concepts without full spelling or clear description. Therefore, when using abbreviation and professional terms, try to follow the norms of scientific writing. Firstly, all abbreviation should be spelled out, when used for the first time in the text. Secondly, the professional language should be avoided or used upon clear definition. Besides, no discriminating or stigmatizing language is acceptable.

Conclusion

If in the Post-Soviet countries, the phrases like “we recommend conducting an additional study” or “more research is needed” are well-accepted, in the Western world such phrases can be perceived as a bad tone, since there is no such field of science where no additional research is needed. Yet, using the precious words for providing these kind of statements is a waste, especially when talking about the conference abstracts. In the conclusion of the abstract, the reviewer is waiting for your final word, the answer to your research question, not for an empty phrase. Another typical mistake is to make ambitious loud claims which are not supported by the results, for instance, that the sample size was not representative, but the conclusions are made based on the whole country population. The best advice is to support the conclusions by data, not by the ambitions of the author. One should also remember that conclusion is like saying goodbye to your readers. Therefore, you should think about leaving them with the feeling of the firm handshake and with a polite smile on your face. This is what you reader will remember.

AIDS 2018 is Looking for Abstract Mentors

Source: AIDS 2018

Abstract mentors are needed for the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) in Amsterdam. The Abstract Mentor Programme (AMP) was introduced at the 15th International AIDS Conference in 2004, with the objective to help young or less experienced researchers improve their abstracts before submitting them, in order to increase the chance of their work being presented at conferences.

The programme especially targets researchers from resource-limited settings, who lack access to opportunities for rigorous mentoring in research and writing and for whom online distance education is proven to cost-effectively build research capacity. Over the years, the AMP has proven to increase the motivation of early career researchers, as well as the number of abstract submissions received from resource-limited countries.

This year’s AMP for the researchers will open on 20 November 2017 and close on 15 January 2018. The abstract submissions for AIDS 2018 will then close on 5 February 2018. This gives mentors time to submit feedback and mentees sufficient time to make their final revisions before the abstract submission deadline.

The AIDS 2016 AMP received 138 draft abstracts. From the draft abstracts that received online mentoring and were submitted for this conference, 30% were accepted into the Conference Programme.

The Abstract Mentor Programme is completely independent of the AIDS 2018 abstract review and selection process.

Mentors can apply for the program starting from 23 October 2017 until 15 January 2018. Mentors must have had at least two abstracts accepted at international scientific conferences and have co-authored at least one manuscript accepted by a peer-reviewed scientific journal within the last five years. To become a mentor and to get more information about AMP, click here.

Source: AIDS 2018

Youth is Invited to Lead the Amsterdam Youth Force at AIDS 2018

Nadiia Dubchak

The Youth Force for AIDS 2018 is looking for young people and youth organisations. Nadiia Dubchak, from Kyiv, Ukraine, is the co-chair of the Youth Force of AIDS 2018 Conference, and she is representing Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA). Meanwhile, Nadiia is looking for active people between the ages of 15 – 26 to help found and lead the Amsterdam Youth Force (AYF). AFEW International is supporting this initiative.

The engagement of young people in the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam next year is fundamental. Every International AIDS Conference, a group of young people and youth organisations come together to create the Youth Force. Young people are essential in creating a response to HIV and AIDS that will reach the end of the epidemic. Young people are also people living with HIV, sex workers, people who use drugs, LGBTQI and many other groups that are key in creating a future without HIV and AIDS.

“I strongly hope that, as youth activists and leaders, we will act together, on behalf of the world teen and youth community, and make a significant contribution to AIDS 2018. Indeed, I would be thankful for your support and honored to convey your ideas to the Conference Coordination Committee prior to and during the Conference. We are now building up the Youth Force working groups which would guarantee an excellent performance and efficiency of AYF in different dimensions of AIDS 2018. We kindly invite youth-focused activists and young leaders from all over the world to join us,” Nadiia Dubchak is saying.

How to join

To become a part of AYF, please like their Facebook page to stay in touch and share info about their activities online. To join a working group, please write an email to amsterdamyouthforce@gmail.com including your basic contact details and a short motivation note. Also, you can use this email to pose any questions regarding AYF and your personal involvement. For those interested in contributing to AYF, you can add Nadiia Dubchak on Facebook.

AFEW is Looking for Digital Producers

AFEW International is looking for an organisation or individuals to produce a series of materials on knowledge and skills required for successful preparation for AIDS 2018, including but not limited to creating conference profile system, abstract development, scholarship applications submission, applying for workshops, taking part in the Global Village and Youth Program etc.

AFEW International with the support of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs is implementing a range of activities to empower CBOs, NGOs, activists, policy makers, stakeholders, researchers and clinicians from Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region to take part in the 22nd International AIDS Conference 2018 in Amsterdam AIDS 2018.

There are several barriers for the delegates from EECA region in their participation in the AIDS conferences: lack of skills on scientific writing and abstract development, costs of participation, and language barrier.

Because of these barriers, the delegates from EECA region have traditionally been disproportionally underrepresented at the AIDS conferences since its inception.

AFEW International is implementing several strategies to support delegates from EEAC region to meaningfully participate in AIDS2018.  Among them webinars and trainings on community-based participatory research for NGOs from EECA, free online resources on writing and submitting abstracts developed by AFEW International and Health[e]Foundation, and newsletters with information from the EECA region and the Netherlands on the preparation for AIDS 2018.

The application deadline is 31st August. More details about the procedure and requirements can be found here.