It is always a weird feeling when presenting at a conference or workshop. On one hand, I'm excited because of the opportunity to be among people who are passionate like me; and on the other hand, I have that good ole self-doubt that's screaming out at me saying "Girl you do not belong."
That was the case for the International Workshop on HIV & Women in Seattle last week. Being in a room full of doctors, social workers, researchers and advocates in this field had this Bougetta Brooklyn chick shook just for a little bit. The one thing that kept me grounded before taking my first steps in the room was me playing "Good Morning Gorgeous" by Mary J. Blige from my hotel room and wearing my comfy, confident lobster pants.
The conference was held in the same hotel that I stayed in which was great for so many reasons: saved money on Ubers (praise be the lord); saved me some time to get my head together; made for a fast getaway if I forgot something (because I always do); and also was able to network better since most people were staying there as well.
I didn't know what to expect because this was my first time attending this workshop and I was pleasantly surprised that all of the presentations were being held in one room for the entire day. The good part of that was I couldn't get lost and I didn't have to worry about anyone stealing my seat if I went to the bathroom. The bad part was you were literally in one room from 8 am to 5:45 pm. The whole two days was jam-packed with information about everything that was trending in HIV and I was here for it all.
The best part of the workshop for me besides my presentation was attending the Risk to Reasons symposium on reframing and refocusing HIV prevention and care for Black women, sponsored by ViiV. Our very own Olivia Ford was a panelist and being able to listen to the women in the field and providers talk about engaging women in healthcare while also incorporating sexual pleasure was refreshing to sit through because it rarely happens. I was able to connect with people from the symposium about having the hard conversations with your patients about sex; and also about why changing not only our language is important but also how we serve the community. For me that was the takeaway from the workshop: unlearning what didn't work and being open to adapting to what can.
Stay tuned for more from The Well Project at the International Workshop on HIV & Women and CROI 2023!
I have it on good authority ( a doctor and a social worker I met at the CROI conference a couple days later) you did a great job! You belong in any room you walk in!