Between July 18th and 23rd the biennial International AIDS Conference will bring together approximately 25,000 researchers, experts, governments representatives, health care professionals, activists, business leaders and HIV/AIDS patients, with the theme Rights here, right now. The thrust of the message being that promiting and protecting human rights is needed for a successful response to HIV.
The enormous costs of treating millions of HIV/AIDS patients is forcing health authorities, donors and decision-makers into a new phase of prevention - expected to be a contentious issue. The Vienna summit will impact significantly on AIDS planning policy over the next few years.
The US government alone has spent a sizeable part of $32.3 billion aimed at having a record number of AIDS patients on medications to extend life expectancy. However, due to budget constraints, the present Obama administration is being forced to tame down increases in AIDS spending and have another look at President George W. Bush's President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
According to UNAIDS, 2.7 million people are known to have become HIV positive in 2008, over 5 million patients are receiving medications, while another 10 million need therapies but are not getting it.
Stigma of AIDS undermines treatment programsUNAIDS Executive Director Mr Michel Sidibé, said:
The human rights of men who have sex with men and other sexual minorities must be fully protected and respected if universal access to HIV services is to be achieved. All people should have equal access HIV prevention, treatment and care services in their countries regardless of sexual orientation.
According to UNAIDS, approximately 80 countries criminalize same sex behavior; add to that the social stigma in many other nations, and we have a serious obstacle to HIV prevention. Men who have sex with men are afraid or embarrassed about disclosing their sexual activity and are deterred from seeking medical help, or finding out what they need to know to reduce their risk.
UNAIDS says that to achieve a effective global program of prevention, it is crucial that anti-discrimination legislation is enforced, as well as promoting campaigns that address homophobia.
How to expand prevention while also cutting costsVirtually all countries that donate to global AIDS programs are currently experiencing budget restrictions. At this Vienna conference, delegates will have to find a way of cutting the cost of treating patients, while at the same time finding ways of expanding efforts to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
In a press release, UNAIDS stated:
Conference topics include the status of the epidemic in southern Africa and other regions, combination prevention strategy, advances in antiretroviral therapy, expansion of policies and programs for people who inject drugs, and political accountability for universal access and human rights.
AIDS 2010 coincides with a major effort to achieve universal access to HIV prevention and treatment by the end of this year. As the global economic crisis threatens to reduce public investment, the conference affirms the value of HIV financing in achieving broader health and development goals.
What is AIDSAIDS is the name of the disease.
AIDS stands for Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome.
- Acquired - means that the disease is not hereditary but develops after birth from contact with a disease causing agent (in this case, HIV).
- Immunodeficiency - means that the disease is characterized by a weakening of the immune system.
- Syndrome - refers to a group of symptoms that collectively indicate or characterize a disease. In the case of AIDS this can include the development of certain infections and/or cancers, as well as a decrease in the number of certain cells in a person's immune system.
What is HIV?HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS. This virus may be passed from one person to another when infected blood, semen, or vaginal secretions come in contact with an uninfected person's broken skin or mucous membranes. Mucous membrane is the inner lining of some of our organs and body cavities, such as the mouth, lungs, stomach and nose - the mucourse membrane glands produce a thick, slipper fluid called mucosa.
In addition, infected pregnant women can pass HIV to their baby during pregnancy or delivery, as well as through breast-feeding. People with HIV have what is called HIV infection. Some of these people will develop AIDS as a result of their HIV infection.
AIDS is the illness, while HIV is the organism that causes the illness.
Some people may be HIV positive (they carry the virus) but have no symptoms of AIDS, while others carry the virus and have AIDS.
Written by Christian Nordqvist