FAST-TRACKING THE GLOBAL HIV RESPONSE – DAY 5 AT AIDS 2014 SIR BOB GELDOF SAYS THE ‘LAST MILE’ OF THE HIV EPIDEMIC MUST BE FUNDED
Sir Bob Geldof has told delegates at AIDS 2014, the 20th International AIDS Conference, that the “preposterous reluctance” of governments to fund HIV programs in developing countries is “disgraceful”, especially as the journey to the end of the HIV epidemic is “in the last mile”.
The renowned anti-poverty campaigner made the comments at the conference in Melbourne today as he reflected on the impact of HIV on developing nations.
Geldof said that the HIV epidemic in low income countries is “inextricably linked” to poverty, and he strongly criticized wealthy nations for reneging on foreign aid commitments.
The theme of the conference today (Thursday 24 July) was ‘making the long term short term’, and today’s activities began with plenary presentations about fast-tracking the global HIV response. Issues discussed included accelerating the development of an HIV vaccine (Antonio Lanzavecchia of Switzerland), advancing the development of HIV prevention technologies (Kenneth Mayer of the US), and improving research about and engagement with transgender people and men who have sex with men (Beatriz Grinsztejn of Brasil, and Laurindo Garcia of the Philippines).
The escalating HIV epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia was explored in a special session featuring representatives from Russia, Lithuania and Moldova. The panel considered the regions intersecting epidemics of HIV, injecting drug use, hepatitis C and tuberculosis, as well as solutions to issues such as poor access to treatment and the marginalisation and criminalisation of men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs.
Also this morning was a symposium on the worrying trends of HIV transmission and co-infection in prisons, where HIV prevalence is up to 50 times higher than the general population. Other sessions included a discussion of how cultural and political environments are impacting on the health outcomes of indigenous populations throughout the world, and strategies for making workplaces more inclusive and supportive of people with HIV.
This afternoon featured a special session on how affected communities can work with pharmaceutical companies to ensure that new antiretroviral treatments are made more affordable and more available. Other sessions this afternoon explored a range of subjects such as: the challenges of being transgender in Asia and the Pacific; cultural sensitivity training for sexual health workers in Islamic countries; and how sacred texts can be used to talk effectively about sexuality and diversity.