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AIDS Conference Calls for Goals Beyond Crisis Management

Organizers of the 16th annual international AIDS conference say it is time to move beyond crisis management and adopt strategies that will prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

It has been 25 years since the first cases of AIDS were documented. Scientists have yet to come up with a cure or a vaccine for the deadly illness.

This year's AIDS conference is focused on short term, achievable measures that will prevent the spread of HIV, the virus is responsible for 43 million new infections every year, most of them in Africa.

Conference organizers are calling for universal access to anti-viral drugs and widespread prevention education.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates told the conference, "We need tools that will allow women to protect themselves," adding "a woman should never need her partner's permission to save her own life." The foundation he and his wife head, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has contributed $500 million to the quest for a vaccine to fight AIDS.

Melinda Gates also stressed the importance of giving women a greater role in the fight against AIDS.

"The more we've been involved in this [we have seen] you've have to put the power in the hands in women," said Melinda Gates. "That is going to be the way to change this epidemic."

Bill Gates, who recently announced he would step down from his day-to-day duties at Microsoft to devote more time to the philanthropy of the Gates Foundation, told the conference that the search for a vaccine to prevent AIDS was now the foundation's top priority.