APHA booth #173

APHA's David Hartogs and Brian Cardillo share information about APHA membership to a delegate at XIX International AIDS Conference (Photo by Audrey Pernik)

From Sweden to Zimbabwe, exhibitors from around the world have set up shop at the 19th annual international AIDS conference this week, and APHA is part of the action, too. One of nearly 200 exhibit booths, APHA is showcasing its publications and talking with attendees about the benefits of being a member.

“We’ve met many people who have traveled from far distances to attend this wonderful event,” said Brian Cardillo, APHA’s membership coordinator who has been managing the APHA exhibit this week. “After learning about APHA membership, attendees were very encouraged that an association such as APHA exists and can provide them with the tools to expand their expertise and become a vital asset in creating strong public health in their communities.”

The massive exhibit hall gives some sense of the magnitude of the week-long event that has brought together more than 20,000 people and includes more than 3,600 scientific abstracts.

“There is a lot here, and it’s not easy to decide which sessions will be more interesting for your country,” said Ndoungou Salla, MD, MPH, an APHA member who serves as the national executive secretary of the National AIDS Council in Mauritania.

During the conference, Salla spends time visiting booths in the exhibit hall (Photo by Audrey Pernik)

“We focus so much of our attention on the countries with high HIV prevalence rates, and we tend to forget the countries with low rates,” Salla told us when we caught up with her on the exhibit hall. “But, without proper funding in a few years from now, those countries with the low rates could be on the same stage as those with high rates.”

Mauritania’s HIV prevalence rate is 0.7 percent but can be as high as 8 percent in high risk areas of the country.

You can join the conversation on Twitter via @aids2012 or#AIDS2012. The conference runs through Friday, July 27.