The Global AIDS Conference is held every two years to highlight the need and success of the HIV prevention programmes and hence estimate the funds required to sustain them.At the 18th International AIDS Chonference in Vienna, there were 248 sessions and 6,238 abstracts presented.However the recently concluded Vienna Aids Conference has been declared as a dissapointment by the global experts.I provide you with a brief synopsis on those issues which has been grossly overlooked in this conference.
Severe Cuts in funding : Dr. Kamal Yanni, a senior HIVpolicy advisor quotes “The host country, Austria, set the wrong tone. It pledged $1 million into the Global Fund at its inception (2002) and have not put any money and have now said they are not planning to put any money” Most of the donors refused to pledge any actual figure during the conference. It is unlikely that the estimated 20 million euro budget will be recovered,thus reducing the possibility of introducing newer prevention programmes or expansion of currently running ones.This is quite ridiculous as Aid for poor countries (mostly african and asian nations) represents a small fraction of the donor budget so it will make little saving even if they are curtailed.
The CONDOM issue is undermined:
The cheapest and most effective of all prevention methods is the condom.This conference saw the investments in condoms and safer-sex campaigns fall off Yet, as th experts stressed on new measures come along – microbicides, antiretrovirals, circumcision, etc. According to the United Nations Population Fund, only 2.7 billion condoms were distributed last year against an estimation of 13 billion condoms that are needed.
HIV menance across China and India overlooked:
China and India account for 37 per cent of the world’s population. Yet news from the two countries was virtually nonexistent at the AIDS conference.In India aggressive prvention initiatives among the high-risk groups such as commercial sex workers and migrant workers curtailed the spread of the virus to a mere 2.4 million against an estimation of 100 million a decade ago. China has little HIV testing and a lot of stigma to HIV so the official numbers of 70,000 is ikely to be deceiving. Can the world afford to turn its eyes off these two sleeping giants??
Russia declares it will not change its policies:
Russia is home to one of the most explosive epidemics of HIV/AIDS in the world, fuelled by IV drug use. The country has among the most draconian drug policies in the world. Russian officials have balantly declared in AID Conference at Vienna, that they will not fund HIV/AIDS programs for drug users, prisoners and sex workers.
Potential of Male Circumcision not championed:
Studies conducted indicates that male circumcision can reduce a man’s risk of HIV infection by 60 per cent. In countries with the highest HIV/AIDS infections, circumcision rates are less than 10 per cent. The conference heard of vague, plans to raise that to 80 per cent. In practice fewer than 150,000 operations have been done since the data were first published a few years back. Circumcision is a cause that has potential but does not have an obvious champion.
Acess to HIV medication for all:
The drugs needed to fight the infection needs to be cheaper,affordable and within the buying means of the affected community. Till a cure for HIV arrives a patient needs to be continuosly on medication to retard the process of developing AIDS. But with high price medicines can their treatment be sustained??Most of the time the expense of drugs restricts a continuation of the treatment and the virus starts developing resistance against it.Estimates indicate that the drugs could be availed at a mere 10% of its present cost if they are procured from the developing world.But no concrete decision was taken on low cost manufacting and effective distribution of these medications.