MAYDAY! Peace Conference at Gustavus Addresses AIDS in Africa Posted on March 29th, 2006 by

On Wednesday, April 19, Gustavus Adolphus College will hold its 26th annual MAYDAY! Peace Conference, titled “AIDS + Africa: The Unfolding Crisis,” with Robert Gallo and Marjorie Mbilinyi.

Although Eastern Europe and Central and East Asia today show the sharpest increase in HIV, the MAYDAY! conference will focus on sub-Saharan Africa, which continues to be part of the world most affected by this disease. Accounting for just over 10 percent of the world’s population, this area (including Lesotho, Tanzania, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe) is home to more than 60 percent of all people living with HIV/AIDS — about 28.5 million people.

Gallo is recognized for co-discovering the HIV virus as the cause of AIDS and directs the Institute of Human Virology and Division of Basic Science at the University of Maryland’s Biotechnology Institute. In 1996, Science magazine hailed another of Gallo’s discoveries, natural compounds known as chemokines that can block the HIV virus and halt the progress of AIDS, as one of the year’s most important scientific breakthroughs. Gallo’s residency at the College for two weeks this spring is made possible by The Rydell Professorship at Gustavus Adolphus College funded by Drs. Robert E. and Susan T. Rydell.

Mbilinyi, a social activist and professor from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, writes and speaks on women’s concerns, education, AIDS, and politics. Mbilinyi’s training as a sociologist — with particular interests in gender, social justice, and the global political economy — uniquely positions her in the struggle against HIV/AIDS. She is one of the most influential figures in women’s studies in Africa, and is a founding member of the Tanzania Gender Networking Programme, a non-governmental organization focused on promoting gender equality and equity in areas such as women’s health, domestic violence, and female political representation. Mbilinyi has numerous publications on women and work, healthcare issues, and the social and political effects of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

The schedule for the day is:

  • 8:30-10 a.m. Registration in Linner Lounge in the O.J. Johnson Student Union
  • 10 a.m. Welcoming service and opening keynote in Christ Chapel:
    “HIV/AIDS: Understanding One of the Greatest Pandemics of All Time”
    by Robert Gallo
  • 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Public viewing of The AIDS Memorial Quilt
  • 1 p.m. Afternoon keynote in Alumni Hall in the O.J. Johnson Student Union:
    “Gender Struggles Over HIV/AIDS in Tanzania” by Marjorie Mbilinyi
  • 2:30-3:45 p.m. MAYDAY! Forum, “AIDS + Africa: What can WE Do?,” in Alumni Hall.

    Forum speakers and their projects are:
    o Lorraine Teel, executive director of the Minnesota AIDS Project
    o Cynthia Gustafson, parish nurse — “Parish Nursing on the Ground in Africa”
    o Jim Gelbmann, state director for U.S. Senator Mark Dayton — “Political Activism”

  • 4:15 p.m. Closing ceremony and reception in Alumni Hall

The forum is an opportunity for these individuals to talk about each project, followed by a question-and- answer session.

In connection with the conference, Gustavus has also arranged for six sections of The AIDS Memorial Quilt to be displayed at various times in Alumni Hall.

The annual MAYDAY! Peace Conference, dating back to 1981, signifies the international distress call as well as a call to action. Previous conferences have focused on topics such as the necessity and effectiveness of international sanctions, global perspectives on the arms race, and the tension between energy and the environment as a roadblock to peace. The event is expected to attract nearly 1,000 attendees. It was established by Florence and the late Raymond Sponberg of North Mankato, Minn.

The conference is open to the public at no charge. For additional information about the conference, contact Gustavus Marketing and Public Relations ( or 507/933-7520).


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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