The 16th International AIDS Conference gets underway Sunday in Toronto. It’s called AIDS 2006, and an estimated 24,000 people are expected to attend, making it the biggest AIDS conference ever.
Hundreds of NGOs will be represented. One of them is the Population Council, which runs many AIDS-related programs. “I’ll be concentrating on two issues," explained Naomi Rutenberg, a program director for the organization. "One is the integration of reproductive health and HIV/AIDS programs and the second is expanding access for pediatric treatment.”
Regarding reproductive health and HIV, Rutenberg said, “The challenge is that there’s a huge overlap in needs in populations of people who use reproductive health programs and HIV/AIDS programs. These are people who are sexually active, in their childbearing age, and particularly people who are seeking family planning and pregnancy services are having unprotected sexual intercourse."
"And so the challenge is to understand that constellation of needs and determine the best ways to meet those needs," she continued, "whether they’re by expanding HIV prevention and access to treatment into reproductive health programs, such as family planning or ante-natal care, maternal/child health, or at strengthening and enhancing components of reproductive health in HIV care and treatment programs or voluntary counseling and testing centers.”
Rutenberg said conditions are improving regarding treatment for children infected with HIV. Therapy and medicines were not ideally suited for them, but she says that’s changing.