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

Thousands of Ethiopian Israelis Rally Against Racism

PM Netanyahu says he will meet Damas Pakada, the Ethiopia-born Israeli soldier who was filmed being beaten by two policemen More

Multimedia Ten Migrants Drown in Mediterranean, 4,800 Rescued

All of those rescued are being ferried to Italian ports, with some arriving on Italy's southernmost island, Lampedusa, and others taken to Sicily and Calabria More

HRW: Saudis Using US Cluster Bombs in Yemen

Human Rights Watch says photographs, video and other evidence have emerged indicating cluster munitions have been used in 'recent weeks' in airstrikes in Houthi stronghold in northern Yemen 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.
From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil Wari
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 03, 2015 1:12 AM
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video 'Woman in Gold' Uses Artwork as Symbol of Cultural Identity

Simon Curtis’ legal drama, "Woman in Gold," is based on the true story of an American Jewish refugee from Austria who fights to reclaim a famous Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis during World War II. It's a haunting film that speaks to the hearts of millions who have sought to reclaim their past, stripped from them 70 years ago. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Taviani Brothers' 'Wondrous Boccaccio' Offers Tales of Love, Humor

The Italian duo of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have been making movies for half a century: "The Night of the Shooting Stars," "Padre Padrone," "Good Morning, Babylon." Now in their 80s, the brothers have turned to one of the treasures of Italian culture for their latest film. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Challenges Await Aid Organizations on the Ground in Nepal

A major earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday and killed thousands, injured thousands more and sent countless Nepalese outside to live in makeshift tent villages. The challenges to Nepal are enormous, with some reconstruction estimates at around $5 billion. Aid workers from around the world face challenges getting into Nepal, which likely makes for a difficult recovery. Arash Arabasadi has the story from Washington.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs