News / Africa

AIDS 2012: Preparations Underway for US to Host Conference

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

In July 2012, the world’s largest AIDS conference comes to Washington, D.C.  It’s the first time the gathering will be held in the United States since 1990 and preparations are already underway.

Despite the massive U.S. financial, medical and scientific contributions to the fight against HIV/AIDS, a major issue blocked the conference from being held here.  That was a law that prohibited HIV infected people from traveling to the United States. In was passed in 1987 in the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  Efforts to lift the ban began during President George W. Bush’s second administration.  It was finally repealed in January 2010 under President Obama.

To International AIDS Society President and conference co-chair – Dr. Elly Katabira – that’s very good news.

“So now we’re in business,” he says.

Similar to D.C.

Katabira has visited Washington, D.C. to meet with city officials about the 19th International AIDS Conference, also known as AIDS 2012.

AIDS 2012: Preparations Underway for US to Host Conference
AIDS 2012: Preparations Underway for US to Host Conference

“The epidemic in the U.S. and in particular Washington, D.C., is not very different from other highly affected countries in the sub-Saharan region and other regions of the world.  So, coming here would give us an opportunity, and also Washington, D.C., an opportunity, to share the experiences, learn from each other, mistakes and so on,” he says.

A prominent Washington HIV treatment and care facility – the Whitman-Walker Clinic – says 3 percent of the city’s adult population is confirmed to have HIV.  Another 3 to 5 percent are believed to be HIV positive, but have not been diagnosed.  Most of the new infections are among African-Americans and gay men.

The theme of AIDS 2012 is yet to be determined.

“We haven’t yet worked on the theme.  Normally, the theme comes close to the time of the conference.  The reason is that the conference now has one and a half years to go.  If you have a theme now, things may change over time.  And the theme, once you’ve decided, you can’t change it.  It becomes irrelevant,” he says, adding, “So, we’ll start discussing the theme somewhere in the middle of this year.  And towards the end of this year, then we will have a theme for the conference.”

Budget cuts

Katabira visited Washington at a time when the House of Representatives has proposed hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

He urges Congress to reject those cuts, especially since the conference is being held in the nation’s capital.

“If they would listen to me, my pledge would be, please, don’t do any more cuts.  In anything, put up more money.  The reason is, we appreciate the economic front, because we don’t want to be on the negative side alone.  We definitely appreciate the reason behind the cuts.  But then also we need to appreciate that the epidemic itself is still burning.  And any further cuts are likely to make the escalation of the epidemic worse,” he says.

He says he fears if the U.S. cuts AIDS funding, other nations will follow suit.

“The rest of the world has stood on the benefits of the U.S. government and the people of the U.S.  Once they hear that even the U.S. is cutting down they may think it is relevant for them also either to stay [keep] the status quo or to cut the funding,” he says.

Each International AIDS Society president puts his or her mark on the conference, a personal goal, if you will.  Dr. Katabira is no different.

“Mine,” he says, “is leadership and accountability.  Much as I appreciate the support from all the G8 [nations], including the U.S. and other public/private stakeholders, I want to emphasize that with…the possibility of funding likely to be reduced, ourselves, the recipients, the beneficiaries of this support, need to be more focused in actually maximizing whatever we get from this country.  Use the amount of money as effectively and efficiently [as possible], so we can reach much more people than we are doing today with the current funding.”

The 19th International AIDS Conference will be held from July 22nd through the 27th, 2012.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime bombardment, VOA correspondent finds More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid