XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto
Next World Aids Conference to be held in Mexico/2008. See Videos and transcripts of MSM workshops.
“This conference cannot be deemed a success unless we collectively realize our theme of Time to Deliver,” said Conference Co-Chair Dr. Mark Wainberg, Local Host Board Chair and Director of the McGill University AIDS Centre. “Indeed, we will have failed unless we dramatically and rapidly expand by millions the numbers of people around the world with access to antiretroviral drugs. Clearly, progress cannot be achieved if more people continue to become infected by HIV each year than the numbers that are able to access treatment.”
“No one has the capacity to manage HIV/AIDS alone,” said Anders Nordstrom, Acting DirectorGeneral, World Health Organization. “Universal access demands a universal response. Think of this as a borderless society for health; one that includes everyone in the continuum of HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support; that embraces all who can make a difference, from political leaders to scientists, health workers, to young people, people living with HIV, the poor, sex workers, injecting drug users, men who have sex with men, people in prison. This includes the NGOs, civil society, the activists we just saw the private providers, pharmaceutical companies, community groups. And of course, this includes not only health care workers, but also the education, infrastructure, finance and other sectors. We need a strong gender perspective in our work to ensure that women and men, girls and boys are provided with equal opportunities.
All of us are responsible for the next steps as we are going back to our homes.” “In my view, as delegates doubtless know the most vexing and intolerable dimension of the pandemic is what is happening to women,” said Stephen Lewis, U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. “It’s the one area of HIV/AIDS which leaves me feeling most helpless and most enraged.
Gender inequality is driving the pandemic, and we will never subdue the gruesome force of AIDS until the rights of women become paramount in the struggle. I challenge you my fellow delegates, to enter the fray of gender inequality. There is no more honorable and productive calling. There is nothing of greater import in this world. All roads lead from women to social change, and that includes subduing the pandemic. For my own part, when I leave the post of Envoy at the end of the year, I have asked that my successor be an African, but most important and African woman.”
“More than ever, we confirmed during this week that prevention and care are two faces of the same coin,” said Pedro Cahn, IAS President. “More than ever biomedical and behavioral scientists have the challenge and the opportunity to work together with people living with HIV and community organizations towards our common goals. Of course, all the knowledge, the innovative research, the new tools, will not be effective without the political leadership that is essential to halting this disease. We must keep the pressure on the G8 leaders to follow up on their commitment to achieve universal access to prevention, care and treatment by 2010. We are still far from the $22 billion per year that will be required by 2008 to achieve that goal, and we must – as the theme of this conference reminds us – tell them that now is the ‘Time to Deliver’ on that commitment. Again allow me to raise very loudly the voice of IAS: we will not endorse any type of Schindler’s List, by accepting that while those included save their lives, others are just left behind suffering and dying.”
“It is no coincidence that this conference will be held in Mexico,” Luis Soto Ramirez, the regional International AIDS Society representative in Mexico. “Latin American is faced with many challenges in its response to HIV. An urgent need for prevention, a lack of infrastructure to ensure access to antiretrovirals in some regions as in Africa and in Asia, and the consequence of antiretroviral treatments as seen in developed countries. Moreover, migration, stigma and human rights are not issues that are completely solved in our region. According to the World Health Organization, 68% of those in care in Latin American have access to antiretrovirals, but that number does not take into account the huge number of people that already infected that have no idea they are HIV positive. But numbers are just cold figures. We will talk at AIDS 2008 about human beings, each of whose life -- as Melinda Gates reminded us at the opening ceremony -- are of equal value: whether you are gay or straight, sex trade worker or stay at home mom, black or white, mestizo or native, rich or poor, young or not so young.”
“On behalf of Mexico, I thank the International AIDS Society for having selected us as your next host,” said Julio Frenk, Health Minister of Mexico. “We will live up to your trust. Working with all of you we will make sure that the voices of youth, of women, of MSM, of commercial sex workers, of intravenous drug users, of migrants, of indigenous populations of all people living with AIDS and those caring for them are heard load and clear in Mexico. We will do our very best to have a great program of quality sessions, to create an environment where we can all learn from each other, to make you feel positive about the great work you are carrying out. So you see we have been preparing ourselves by changing, changing to improve. And we are now fully prepared to welcome you to Mexico, welcome you to Latin America where we always say, ‘Mi casa, es tu casa.’”
Jill Braden Balderas with kaisernetwork.org