Melbourne Report Back Session (UPDATE)

AIDS 2014 brought together 13,600 delegates from over 200 countries to discuss the global HIV response. Former US President Bill Clinton, Sir Bob Geldof, UNAIDS head Michel Sidibé and other international figures joined delegates from the medical, research, government and advocacy sectors as well as representatives from the communities most affected by HIV and AIDS including men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers and people who use drugs.

Back home, we are faced with an increasingly tougher challenge to effectively reach at-risk communities. Join us for a report back session by delegates who attended the AIDS 2014 conference in July.


UPDATE

Date : 29 August 2014

Time : 6:30pm

Venue : 9 Kelantan Lane #05-01 S208628

RSVP by 25 Aug 2014 to aids2014@afa.org.sg (35 seats only)


Speaker Line Up

Pro Roy Chan – Epidemiology and Prevention

Dr Lee Cheng Chuan – Clinical Sciences

Thomas Ng – Criminalisation of Key Populations, HIV Transmission and Non Disclosure

Kevin Poh – Love Your Condom

AIDS 2014 : Closing

At the closing ceremony, the organisers reflected upon the accomplishments and tragedy that contributed to the make-up of a conference where, according to Chris Beyrer, the president of the International AIDS Society,

“ the conference than anywhere else before where the separations betweens scientists, clinicians… and people living with HIV and activists truly went away.”.

Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said that the way the city had embraced Australia’s largest-ever health conference touched his heart and recounted stories involving delegates being at the receiving end of acts of kindness by Melburnians.

After Barré-Sinoussi passed on her best wishes to the first openly-gay president of the International AIDS Society, Chris Beyrer, the New Yorker thanked his colleague and Melbourne for hosting the conference and praised Australia’s response to the epidemic while also highlighting it could continue to show the way in the future.

“The whole [HIV and AIDS] movement is grateful to Melbourne, grateful to Australia and we really hope that the Melbourne Declaration is going to be a living document that is going to continue to inform our response, “ Beyrer said.

Beyrer turned his attention towards the next International AIDS Conference to be held in Durban, South Africa in 2016, the first in the sub-continent since 2000, and welcomed the first female African co-chair of the event.


Related Speeches from the Closing Session

AIDS 2014 : Global Village Highlights

AIDS 2014 : OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE – DAY 5

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.

Read on…

AIDS 2014 : OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE – DAY 3

DECRIMINIALISATION, PREVENTION, HUMAN RIGHTS – DAY 3 OF AIDS 2014 Sir Richard Branson, Global Drug Commissioner, joins the debate

One of the key sessions discussed the impact of drug policies on people who inject drugs, the spread of HIV and the co-morbidities of tuberculosis and hepatitis. During this session Global Drug Commissioner, Sir Richard Branson, who joined by video link, said the global war on drugs had failed both in terms of drug and public health outcomes, particularly in relation to HIV and hepatitis C, and that the time has come to replace the criminalisation and punishment of drug users with treatment and health care.

“Drug policy reform should not be seen in isolation” Sir Richard Branson said. “It has the potential to affect change in other areas such as the world’s chronically overcrowded penal system or of reducing the negative impact of policing on some communities.

“Globally, we’re using too much money and far too many precious resources on incarceration when we should be spending this money on education, vocational training, and in the case of drug users, on treatment, proper medical care and re-entry.”

Today’s conference activities (Tuesday 22 July) began with plenary presentations about barriers to effective HIV prevention practice. Issues discussed included strengthening health systems (Olive Shisana of South Africa), overcoming gender inequality (Jennifer Gatsi-Mallet of Namibia), and improving financial investments in HIV responses (Mark Dybul, MD of The Global Fund).

Day two also included two key symposiums: one addressing youth leadership in the global HIV response; and another focussed on how better engagement with the science of HIV can improve access to HIV treatments.

Click to Read Full Press Release

AIDS 2014 : Bill Clinton’s speech

Former US president Bill Clinton has told a world AIDS conference in Melbourne that an AIDS-free generation is within reach.

Mr Clinton addressed the audience about the future for the treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDS. He said every year another 2 million people are infected with HIV, including 20,000 children a month. But he said achievements made in the fight against AIDS should not be an excuse for people to rest on their laurels.

“The AIDS-free world that so many of you have worked to build is just over the horizon. We just need to step up the pace,” he said.

“We are on a steady march to rid the world of AIDS.” Mr Clinton said one of the biggest challenges the international community faces was the early detection of HIV. “New data from 51 countries suggests 70 per cent of HIV-related deaths could have been prevented.” he said. “The evidence continues to build that early treatment helps prevent further transmission.”

His speech was briefly interrupted by protesters calling for new financial taxes to support the fight against AIDS. “Give them a hand and ask them to let the rest of us talk,” Mr Clinton said as the protesters continued to interrupt his speech.

Read on…


 

First Published on ABC.net.au

Breaking : HIV Kick Out From Infected Cells

The technique addresses the problem of hidden reservoirs of HIV in the body, and could herald a new way of battling the viral infection

Once HIV invades the body, it doesn’t want to leave. Every strategy that scientists have developed or are developing so far to fight the virus – from powerful anti-HIV drugs to promising vaccines that target it – suffers from the same weakness. None can ferret out every last virus in the body, and HIV has a tendency to hide out, remaining inert for years, until it flares up again to cause disease.

None, that is, until now. Kamel Khalili, director of the Comprehensive NeuroAIDS Center at Temple University School of Medicine, and his colleagues took advantage of a new gene editing technique to splice the virus out of the cells they infected – essentially returning them to their pre-infection state. The strategy relies on detecting and binding HIV-related genetic material, and therefore represents the first anti-HIV platform that could find even the dormant virus sequestered in immune cells.

Read on…


 

First Published on Time.com – July 21 2014

AIDS 2014 : OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE – DAY 4

BREAKING RELIGIOUS TABOOS, THE INJUSTICES OF HIV AND TACKLING STIGMA AND DISCRIMINATION – DAY 4 AT AIDS 2014

BILL CLINTON ADDRESSES THE DELEGATES

Wednesday July 22, 2014 – Former US President Bill Clinton has told delegates at AIDS 2014, the 20th International AIDS Conference, that finding more economically efficient ways to respond to HIV is vital to saving lives and preventing the spread of the virus.

Mr Clinton, who advocates globally for health security through the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), made the comments at the conference in Melbourne today as he reflected on the progress made so far in overcoming the HIV epidemic, as well as the challenges that lie ahead.

Mr Clinton said meeting global HIV prevention and support targets is possible within the “existing funding envelope”, but only if resources are used more effectively. “The development of super-efficient systems can help us achieve the 90 / 90 / 90 goals,” Mr Clinton said, referring to the UNAIDS 2020 targets of 90% of people with HIV knowing their status, 90% of people with HIV receiving antiretroviral treatment and 90% of people on treatment having an undetectable viral load.

Mr Clinton said one of the biggest challenges is delivering care to patients in a better way in rural and remote areas. “How can we reduce the distance they travel to the clinics, the time they wait, the money they spend? How can we launch programs to ensure they feel supported in their communities without the stigma that makes people still, after all these years, drop out of care,” Mr Clinton said.

Mr Clinton said ending mother to child transmission of HIV, and supporting children with HIV is another challenge – as well as a tremendous opportunity for sustaining progress in the response to HIV.

“Almost 50% of all new paediatric infections occur during the breastfeeding period. So keeping these women in care until the end of the breast-feeding period is the single most important thing we can do to achieve an AIDS-free generation.”

Mr Clinton indicated that the AIDS 2014 gathering was more of a movement than a conference, and encouraged delegates and those involved with HIV around the world to step up the pace and continue to make in-roads in the global response to HIV. He also paid his respects to the victims of MH17 including the six delegates due to attend AIDS 2014. He said the delegates who died, through their work for the global HIV response “gave their entire lives to the proposition that our common humanity matters a hell of a lot more than our differences.”

Today’s conference activities (Wednesday 23 July) began with plenary presentations about improving outcomes for marginalised populations of people affected by HIV. The theme of the conference today, including the opening plenary session, was “Nobody left behind”. Issues discussed included addressing the needs of people who use drugs through drug policy and harm reduction (Khuat T. M. Oanh of Vietnam), increasing support for people living with HIV and tuberculosis co-infection (Diane Havlir of the US), and reducing the impact of HIV on sex workers (Daisy Nakato of Uganda) and on indigenous populations (James Ward of Australia).

Read on… 

Watch : Katy Perry’s Unconditional

We brought a group of young people together – both HIV positive and HIV negative – and watched some heartwarming moments unfold!

Join UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Katy Perry and #ShowYourLove for all the adolescents facing stigma. Adolescents are the only age group in which AIDS-related deaths are increasing, and stigma — in many forms – is an immense barrier to HIV testing, care and treatment. Let’s work together to end the discrimination associated with HIV!

#Showyourlove

AIDS researcher amongst those on MH17

AFA expresses it’s deepest condolences and sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of all on board flight MH17. 100 AIDS Conference delegates heading to Melbourne lost their lives in this unfortunate tragedy. It is indescribably painful and regrettable for all of us. As we grief with the community, our thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones.

Among them were professor Joep Lange from the Netherlands, Lucie van Mens, and Martin de Schutter from AIDS Action Europe and Glenn Thomas from the World Health Organisation.

Lange, an expert in the field of medicinal AIDS therapy, founder of PharmAccess Foundation and Former International AIDS Society head has strongly advocated for patients in Africa to gain improved access to effective drugs.

“If we are able to deliver cold Coca Cola and beer to the most remotes regions in Africa, it shouldn’t be impossible to do the same with drugs.”
– Lange, 2002, AIDS summit in Barcelona.


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