News / Africa

AIDS 2010 Called Both Medical and Political Summit

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

The Chair of the 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna says the gathering is both an important health and political summit.  Dr. Julio Montaner, President of the International AIDS Society, says the conference remains relevant 30 years into the epidemic.

“I think… the fact that we continue to attract the kind of numbers that we are attracting provides the answer to your question,” he says.  About 25,000 people are expected to attend, including some 2,000 journalists.

From a personal perspective, Montaner says, “This is the single most important public health conference ever held year after year, but you know we hold it every second year.  We bring together not just medical science, basic science, but we are actually bringing every discipline.  That includes anything from politicians to social scientists to community activists to persons affected with HIV and, of course, the more traditional medical groups.”

Dr. Julio Montaner, President, International AIDS Society
Dr. Julio Montaner, President, International AIDS Society

It really should be regarded, he says, as an “AIDS summit taking place, where we really take the opportunity to assess where we are at and what the next steps should be.”

Taking a stand

The conference takes strong positions on a number of issues.  The theme is Rights Here, Right Now. Prior to the opening, AIDS 2010 released the Vienna Declaration, which called for a dramatic revaluation of international drug policies and the decriminalization of drug abusers.  It says the matter should be a health issue, similar to the way alcoholism is now regarded.  The declaration does not say countries should not try to control the flow of drugs.  But Montaner says jailing drug abusers only helps to drive the epidemic underground, far from medical help.

He sees AIDS 2010 as a political summit, as well as a medical one.

“Of course, there is absolutely no doubt.  AIDS has a very fundamental political dimension.  If we had the political will, we could today face a very different perspective regarding the control of HIV worldwide.  Pledges have been made.  Pledges have been broken.  Promises have been made and not fulfilled,” he says.

Dr. Montaner adds, “We are wasting effort, money, time, [and] lives because we are just not doing the right things.  And we’re not doing the right things because the evidence is not there….  We’re doing something else, because the ideology is trampling evidence.”

In 2005, at the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, leaders pledged universal access to HIV care, treatment and prevention by 2010.  That goal has not been fully achieved.

“The biggest theme that has been emerging from this conference, that actually is a unifying theme bringing everything together, is the fact that today, we are [in] 2010, the G8 pledge…[has] basically not been fulfilled.  We are probably 40 percent there, if we are lucky,” he says.

Since 2005, people on HIV treatment have jumped from very low numbers in developing nations to over 5 million.  “But we’re still at least in need of another 5 or 10 million people in treatment if we’re going to make a significant dent to the epidemic,” he says.

But there’s a global economic crisis

“The world is telling us, well, the resources are limited.  And we’re telling them, you know what, it’s not a matter of resources, it’s a matter of priorities,” he says.

Montaner, who’s also director of the BC Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in Vancouver, Canada, says the U.S. and other rich nations were quick to help Wall Street, banks and carmakers deal with the economic downturn, even though problems in those areas contributed to the turmoil.

“You didn’t have any difficulty finding the millions and billions that were necessary to do that.  Today,  we’re saying invest in antiretroviral therapy for two reasons.  First, it’s ethically, medically and morally the right thing to do.  Secondly, it’s going to cost you a lot more later,” he says.

AIDS 2010 runs from July 18 through the 23rd.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid