Vienna AIDS conference ends with call for more resources

JAMAICA OBSERVER – The curtains came down Friday on the 18th biennial meeting of the International Aids Conference here in Vienna with stakeholders pointing to the need for increased resources to fight the HIV pandemic, while renewing commitments to push for universal access to prevention, care, treatment and support. “International Governments say we face a crisis of resources, but that is simply not true: The challenge is not finding money, but changing priorities,” said Dr Julio Montaner, the AIDS 2010 conference chair and president of the International AIDS Society.
“When there is a Wall Street emergency or an energy crisis, billions upon billions of dollars are quickly mobilised. People’s health deserves a similar financial response and much higher priority,” he said.
Montaner said it should be ensured that world leaders not recant on their pledge to reach the goal of universal access.
Montaner had the support of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who in a video address to delegates at the closing ceremony, urged world leaders to make resources to fight HIV/AIDS a priority in their budgets.
Tutu pointed out that 5.5 million people still need treatment in poor countries.
“Denying someone treatment is denying them to life; now is the time to invest in health care [as] a healthy nation is a prosperous nation,” he said.
Delegates were, however, happy that there was clear evidence of tangible progress in HIV research and programmes, but highlighted the need to protect human rights and to provide broader use of scientifically sound prevention strategies.
“The legacy of Vienna is the proof that we can scale up treatment and prevention to all those in need,” said Dr Brigitte Schmied, AIDS 2010 conference local co-chair and president of the Austrian AIDS Society. “Despite the formidable obstacles in our path, we leave here with renewed energy to maintain momentum,” she said.
At the conclusion of the closing session, representatives of the AIDS 2010 local partners officially transferred the International AIDS Conference globe from Vienna to Washington, DC, which will host the XIX International AIDS Conference in July 2012. Accepting the globe for Washington were AIDS 2012 local co-chair, Dr Diane Havlir, and representatives of the AIDS 2012 local partners.
The conference had 19,300 participants from 193 countries, and the week-long programme featured 248 sessions covering science, community and leadership.

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