News / Africa

AIDS 2010 Called Both Medical and Political Summit

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid