How does the 16th International AIDS Conference compare with similar meetings of the past? A Nigerian-born researcher analyzes the five-day meeting in Toronto. Dr. Vincent Idemyor says AIDS 2006 has done a good job of presenting scientific studies. Idemyor teaches and works in Chicago but is spending time as a visiting professor in Nigeria, most recently at the University of Port Harcourt. VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua has details.
Dr. Vincent Idemyor says AIDS 2006 has done a good job of presenting scientific studies.
“The scientific content of this conference is better compared to the past 10 years. Which is a good thing because at some point people in the scientific world were a little concerned about the scientific content, but it’s improved here tremendously. And also again the good thing about this conference is that there’s been quite a lot of involvement of the civil society.”
In 2000, at the Durban conference, a greater emphasis was placed on the social and community aspects of HIV/AIDS. Those soon became very strong components of future conferences, leading some scientists to believe their research was being given less emphasis.
Prior to the Toronto meeting, co-chair Dr. Helene Gayle made the point of saying the scientific content would be of high quality.
Idemyor sees a good mix of subjects.
“I see a very good balance. We are coming back to it. Scientists are impressed with the conference in terms of scientific content. The people in the civil society are also impressed. So, there’s a good balance. It’s a step forward.”
As for the theme of the AIDS conference, Time to Deliver, a reference to taking action on past promises, Idemyor says it’s not very timely.
“Well, as far as the theme is concerned I think we’re a little bit behind. We should have delivered five years ago. But I guess we can still do something to ensure that we deliver now. It’s still not too late. So that we can save some more lives. But I still believe we should have delivered five years ago.”
Idemyor teaches and works in Chicago but is spending time as a visiting professor in Nigeria, most recently at the University of Port Harcourt.
He says he’ll quickly put to use the information he’s gathered in Toronto.
“Yes, it is something we can take right away. But the biggest challenge is to translate, not just for me, but for everybody that’s here, to translate the information that we’ve gathered into action on the ground. And that’s the biggest challenge.”
Thousands of scientists, activists, NGOS, health officials and political leaders will gather again in two years when the AIDS conference is held in Mexico City.
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