Having spent the last six weeks gallivanting around Europe and the Middle East, you’d think I’d have become used to culture shock by now. Arriving in strange countries where you don’t speak the language and have no local currency, crossing international borders in the middle of the night – yes that’s all part of the rich tapestry of travel. But on Saturday morning I found myself in the first (pre-conference) session of the International AIDS Conference – after six weeks of holidays that was quite a culture shock in itself.

“Oh yes, AIDS,” I thought to myself. “Where were we?”

It hasn’t taken long for the old instincts to kick back in and I’m working my arse off getting to sessions, meeting people and talking, thinking, living, sleeping, eating and drinking nothing but HIV for the whole week. Vienna is nice enough although it wouldn’t have been on my list of cities to visit had it not been for this conference.

I have a nice apartment in Kuttenbrückegasse which, to my surprise, is conveniently located directly across the road from Vienna’s most popular gay sex club. Naturally I have not ventured in there, being the paragon of moral rectitude I am, but the front entrance is visible from my apartment window and I have set up an infra-red video monitoring system so I can blackmail all the AIDS Conference delegates that I catch going in and out. Please have your chequebooks ready when I call as I have a big holiday to pay off.

Things are moving swiftly here and it looks like there could be some exciting news on microbicides tomorrow. I really enjoy these events and get really energised about my work, but they run from dawn to dusk every day and there is little let-up, so they are exhausting. There are some photos in this Flickr set and that will be added to over the week. Plus I’m doing some posts for if you want the serious take on what’s happening.