The historic XIX International AIDS Conference ended last Friday, but just how historic were the results it managed to achieve?
As far as funding goes, the US, whose funding was actually decreasing, made two funding announcements. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton announced over $150 million in new US initiatives to combat HIV/AIDS, adding an additional $80 million to help eliminate mother-to-child infections by 2015. PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief revealed a $5 million grant designed to address sexual violence against children.
The majority of low-middle income countries are now taking care of their own funding to combat HIV/AIDS, signaling an end to the “era of charity,” with South Africa leading the way for countries to provide most of their own HIV/AIDS funding.
But beyond the numbers and dollar signs, AIDS 2012 failed to deliver. Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health, Council on Foreign Relations, states that the theme of the conference, “The End of AIDS” implied we had a toolkit to apply to rid the world of this epidemic. In reality, Garrett says that the conference undermined the “real toolkit” to fight HIV/AIDS.
AIDS 2012 failed to highlight the importance of HIV treatment as prevention. Not enough emphasis was placed on male circumcision, proven to be hugely successful around the world.
The issue of implementation when it comes to eliminating mother to child transmission was not given enough attention. 300,000 new infections still occur every year simply because it is so difficult for women in rural areas to access programs, pregnant women still fail to get tested, and many countries face a shortage in health workers.
The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) also chides AIDS 2012 for not advertising the fact that earlier in July, the FDA approved Truvada for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) which in combination with safer sex practices, actually reduces the risk of sexually acquired HIV-infection for high-risk adults.
AIDS 2012 may have come and gone, but the most important message it left us with is that despite huge strides, the fight to win the battle against HIV/AIDS goes on, and we have not yet found the “end of AIDS.”
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