Vienna 2010 AIDS Conference Opens to Hope & Protest
The 2010 International AIDS Conference in Vienna started off with protests about the lack of funding and indifference from governmental leaders. According to a report by the Associated Press, Julio Montaner, the President of the International AIDS Society and Chair of the AIDS 2010 Conference, said that some governments with high HIV infection rates were, “irresponsible to the point of criminal negligence.” Protestors from ACT UP Paris disrupted a pre-conference meeting and a number of AIDS organizations decried the lack of funds to treat people living with HIV/AIDS and for prevention programs. There was also hope and progress reported with news of the CAPRISA Study in South Africa. A press release from the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases states:
“For years, antiretroviral medicines have been effectively used to treat HIV infection. Through the successful conduct of the CAPRISA 004 study, we now have proof that an antiretroviral drug, in this case tenofovir, can be formulated into a vaginal gel that can protect women against HIV infection. Given that women make up the majority of new HIV infections throughout the world this finding is an important step toward empowering an at-risk population with a safe and effective HIV prevention tool.”
Research into prevention is a positive step forward. And the conference gives the Bills of the world (Clinton and Gates) the opportunity to move AIDS research and funding forward. The HIV/AIDS protests from activists and concerns about continued funding have put the HIV/AIDS pandemic back in the headlines. You can follow bloggers at the Vienna 2010 AIDS Conference here:
A YouTube video of the AIDS protests is here: HIV/AIDS Protest and,
The NIAID CAPRISA Press Release
Day Two Update: Grim news was reported about injection drug users (IDUs) to the conference. AFP reports the following:
“Only five percent of all IDUs have access to a programme where they can swap used syringes for sterile ones, according to a study led by Louisa Degenhardt of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, Australia.
Only eight percent have safer, legal substitutes such as methadone to opiate drugs like heroin.
And only four percent of IDUs with HIV receive antiretroviral drugs, which can repress blood levels of the virus to such low levels that the risk of contaminating others can be slashed by more than 90 percent.”
Another reason to stress prevention. Read the AFP Report
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Note of Blogger’s privilege: I am currently working in Washington, DC in absolutely Awful Weather. Trust me, it isn’t always easy being a freelance blogger. I can’t wait to return to the grey, cool weather in the Pacific Northwest. However, there is a Fringe Theater Festival that I hope to check out this weekend. I will spare you the details.