Kaisernetwork.org Update From the XIV International AIDS Conference, July 9
In a speech interrupted by protesters, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson called HIV/AIDS "one of the most serious challenges facing humanity." He said the Bush Administration's $500 million initiative to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child has a goal of "reducing that transmission rate by 40% in 12 African countries and the Caribbean" within five years, and to treat with advanced drug therapy more than one million women. In addition, the Secretary said the U.S. is doubling the amount it is spending to fight the epidemic globally. He said "no administration in any nation has ever made fighting HIV/AIDS as high a priority." Issues around prevention were again highlighted at today's meetings. The United Nations Population Fund announced it is doubling the amount it is spending on prevention efforts in more than 140 countries. In a plenary speech, a physician from India emphasized that empowering women to take control of their lives and their sexuality is a key to prevention. Dr. Helene Gayle, of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said "the key to prevention is giving people hope." A new analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation of data from the U.S. Census Bureau projects the number of young people living with HIV/AIDS rising from 12.4 million in 2001 to 21.5 million by the end of the
decade -- approximately a 70% increase. Drew Altman, president of the Foundation, said "this is why HIV prevention for youth needs to be a top priority." Meanwhile, researchers from two drug companies announced progress in developing two medications that attack the AIDS virus in ways that are very different from current medications. The researchers say the new drugs provide an alternative for AIDS patients who have developed resistance to the drugs now available.
This report is also available online in Real Audio or Windows Media.