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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid