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Colorful flags and candies decorate the LGBT Networking Zone. More than 120 groups from around the world set up booths in the Global Village to distribute information about the AIDS epidemic. (NPR)

A Walk Through The AIDS Conference's Global Village

by Michaeleen Doucleff
Jul 27, 2012

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The 19th International AIDS Conference is wrapping up today in Washington, and it's been an exciting one.

Doctors said two more people have been nearly cleared of HIV. New data suggest that HIV treatment as prevention can be cost-effective. And, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton energized the political world by announcing plans to build a "blueprint" for reaching an "AIDS-free generation."

But the conference isn't just about charts, facts and clinical trials. There is a human side to the meeting that makes it unique among medical conferences.

It's home is the meeting's Global Village. That's the only part of the meeting open to the general public and free of admission. It's a place where people from around the world come together to share their ideas about the AIDS epidemic through art, performances, and debates.

This year, the Global Village contained more than 120 booths from 90 different countries, taking up 190,000 square feet of the conference center. Activists and advocates distributed information about human rights, safe sex, and the facts of living with HIV, while performance artists filled the convention center with a music and dance throughout the week.

Highlights at the Global Village this year included a female condom fashion show on Tuesday evening, a Jamaican musical television show from the Ashe Performing Arts Company on Thursday afternoon, and The Condom Project, which handed out more than 850,000 condoms during the week.

The Condom Project also ran a popular "lube tasting" booth, that even offered vegan and sugar-free options.

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