#APHA15, Day One: Sunday is for Scrambling a Late-Breaker and Section Introductions

Good evening, all, and – for those of you attending – welcome to Chicago and APHA’s Annual Meeting! According to tradition (and my job besides), I will be blogging my experiences at the Annual Meeting. I arrived yesterday, so I am obviously behind, but hopefully section readers will forgive the delay. After saying up all night to revise my late-breaker proposal (more on that below), it was all I could do yesterday to eat dinner and collapse into bed after a busy (and hectic) start to the meeting.

Scrambling a Late-Breaker Policy Proposal: Opposition to Forced HIV Testing as a Condition of Employment for Foreign Nationals
After the UN CERD issued its ruling that South Korea’s policy of mandatory HIV tests for foreign English teachers constituted racial discrimination, I joined forces with our Section’s Advocacy/Policy Committee, along with the HIV/AIDS Section (which endorsed the late-breaker) to craft a late-breaker policy for APHA to take a stance against HIV tests as a condition of employment for immigrants. Having never written a policy proposal before, there was a lot of trial and error on my part, but after some back-and-forth and fine-tuning, I submitted the proposal in mid-September on behalf of the IH Section. I was disappointed to receive the rejection letter last Tuesday but chalked it up to my inexperience with the process and resolved to re-submit it as a full policy proposal for next year’s meeting.

Imagine my surprise when, on Saturday afternoon, I got another e-mail from the Joint Policy Committee explaining that they had changed their ruling to allow the policy to proceed to the JPC hearings on Sunday. I cheerfully forwarded the message on to the colleagues who had helped me…and then I realized that I would have to revise the proposal according to the suggestions in the initial rejection letter in the next 24 hours. So, after a delightful afternoon at Austin Comic Con as Attack on Titan‘s Annie Leonhart, I spent the rest of the day revising the late-breaker and scrambling to arrange meetings with willing colleagues in other Sections (many thanks to Andy Baker-White from the Law Section) to serve as a fresh pair of eyes.

International Health Section: First Business Meeting
After sending off the revised late-breaker, it was time for the IH Section’s first business meeting. I must say that it continues to improve each year, and this year’s approach was targeted and purposeful for student members in particular, who had a chance to rotate to different committee and working group chairs seated at different tables. As usual, we had quite a few students who were interested in learning more about what we do and how they could get involved in our activities. It was great to see longtime colleagues and meet new people. Students, please visit our About page for contact information for our committees and working groups, and reach out to get involved!

JPC Hearings: Part Two of the Sudden Late-Breaker Saga
After submitting the revised draft of the Late-Breaker and (re)connecting with IH Section members, I dashed off to the JPC hearings for policy proposals and late-breakers. I was slightly intimidated at the prospect of explaining (and potentially defending) the late-breaker, but Kevin Sykes, our A/P Committee Chair, helpfully broke down the procedures and let me know what to expect. The hearings themselves were pretty tame (although to be fair, my own mental picture of Benghazi-esque questioning was probably not realistic). Fortunately, our late-breaker received support from the HIV/AIDS Section and the Occupational Health and Safety Section and was recommended to the Governing Council for adoption by the JPC. Success!

It just goes to show that even someone totally green can succeed with enough support and persistence (and very little sleep).

Soon to follow: Monday is for Networking (and Ninjas for Health). Stay tuned!

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