17th International AIDS Conference – Universal Action, Now

Author:  Patel Akshar
Date:  August 2008

The 17th International AIDS Conference came to a conclusion on Friday, August 8th in Mexico City. With over 25,000 attendees and 7,700 abstracts the conference was considered an enormous success. Reports of a global decrease in AIDS incidence along with a ten-fold increase in treatment rates in the past six years lent an optimistic tone to the conference.

However, critics pointed out that 33 million people around the world continue to be afflicted with AIDS, with over two-thirds of them being in sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, less than one out of seven individuals in developing countries receive adequate treatment, including antiretroviral drugs.

Though the G8, comprised of the leading industrial nations, and the UN set a goal of providing HIV treatment to all those needing it by 2010, even the most optimistic members of the conference agreed that the goal was likely to not be realized in the next two years. The leading cause for this failure is considered to be the fact that less than a third of the pledged funds to fight HIV and AIDS from industrialized nations have actually materialized.

In addition, startling statistics were revealed showing that HIV infection rates among Black Americans were greater than some developing countries and that men who have sex with men were found to have 33-fold increase in AIDS incidence, which resulted in a call for a targeting of prevention efforts.

The AIDS conference also hoped to increase awareness of the stigmatization many HIV-carriers are subjected to in the hopes that persons afflicted with HIV and AIDS would face less discrimination.

The next International AIDS Conference will take place two years from now in Vienna, Austria.

Written by Akshar Patel

Reviewed by Matt Getz

Published by Pooja Ghatalia.