Past and future: AIDS two years from 2008

I have two interesting items here. One is an article from the Toronto Star, which looks at key issues from the 2006 International AIDS Conference and considers where those situations stand today.  The other is an official press release from the XVII International AIDS Conference, titled “HIV Experts Measure Progress on Commitments, Underscore Challenges to Meeting 2010 Goal of Universal Access.”  I’ll look at each in turn.

>> AIDS actions since 2006, Toronto Star, (Aug. 2)

The article looks at key highlights from the 2006 conference (which took place in Toronto) and at how these stories have unfolded since then.  I’ll summarize here, but for more info the full text of the article is a great source.

Best Political Move: In 2006 Canadian Health Minister Tony Clement promised a review of national generic drug law; this accomplished very little.

Biggest Draw: Bill Clinton and Bill Gates promised substantial donations for AIDS efforts; both continue to emphasize AIDS work in their foundations.

Best Activist Movement: The Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign, working to support African grandmothers, who often have to care for many orphaned grandchildren with extremely limited resources; today, the group is going strong in Canada, the US, and the UK.

Major Scientific Highlight: A new HIV drug, Raltegravir, showed promise in patients with strains of HIV resistant to other drugs; today it’s used in 51 countries.

Most Powerful Message: Gender inequity in sub-Saharan African cultures; this is still a hugely prominant issue, and UNAIDS officials have highlighted similar problems in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Least Represented Group: Latin Americans — the setting should help this year.

Biggest PR Disaster: Canadian PM Stephen Harper didn’t show up, and the federal government cancelled an expected funding announcement.  According to the article, “Canadian AIDS researchers and activists remain disappointed with the Harper government.”

Most Pervasive Theme: Microbicides and circumcision as prevention strategies.  As the article puts it, “Microbicides have been a huge disappointment,” but “the buzz around male circumcision has increased.”

Biggest Donation: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s $500 million contribution to the Global Fund.  Nothing comparable expected this year, but the recent reauthorization of PEPFAR is still big news.

Most Ubiquitous Delegate: UN special envoy on HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis, who retired at the end of 2006 but is still an active advocate and co-director of AIDS-Free World (“an international advocacy organization that works to promote more urgent and effective global responses to HIV/AIDS,” according to its website).

 Scale up of HIV Prevention, Treatment, Care and Support Requires Renewed Leadership and Resources, (Aug. 4)

“Despite the progress we have made, we are not on course to meet universal access targets, and in fact, appear to be slipping away from our existing commitments,” said Dr. Pedro Cahn, International Co-Chair of AIDS 2008 and President of the International AIDS Society and Fundación Huésped in Buenos Aires, Argentina. “It appears that we are poised to accept defeat when victory is still within our grasp. Our failure to meet those commitments will have an impact on millions of lives. This cannot be allowed to happen. It is time for nations to live up to their commitments.”

“With only two years to go until the 2010 deadline for universal access set by world leaders, we must redouble our commitment to scaling up all proven HIV prevention strategies,” said Dr. Luís Soto Ramírez, Local Co-Chair of AIDS 2008 and Head of the Molecular Virology Unit at the Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán and Coordinator of the Clinical Care Committee of CONASIDA, Mexico’s National AIDS Council. “The fact that, last year, 2.7 million people were newly infected with HIV, a disease that is entirely preventable, is unacceptable.”


Examining the State of the Epidemic:  Summaries of presentations at the conference’s first plenary session: 1) “Understanding the Spread of HIV and The Possibilities of Combined Prevention Interventions,” 2) “Building on Progress To Date,” 3) “Leadership Key to Success,” and 4) “Full Recognition and Inclusion of Youth Essential.”  (The Kaiser Network offers video, transcript, and podcast of this session.)

Monday Sessions Highlight Efforts to Measure Success, Confront Challenges:  Various sessions “look closely at the progress toward universal access and related barriers”:


    ~ by h.e.g. on August 7, 2008.

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