International AIDS Conference No Longer ‘Cutting-Edge Scientific Meeting’ But Focuses Public Attention on AIDS Fight, NEJM Opinion Piece Says
The biannual International AIDS Conference is "no longer the cutting-edge scientific meeting that it once was" but instead is "a forum to focus public attention on the many aspects of the epidemic," Dr. Robert Steinbrook, a national correspondent for the New England Journal of Medicine, writes in a perspective piece in the Aug. 19 issue of NEJM. Before the next conference in Toronto in 2006, conference organizers must decide "how much to emphasize politics and money and how much to emphasize science and clinical care," Steinbrook says. Until then, there will be "contentious battles over the financing and organization of the global response" to HIV/AIDS, "but after years of waiting, a real start has been made toward controlling the great health care emergency of our time," Steinbrook concludes (Steinbrook, NEJM, 8/19).
Former Thai Drug Researcher Working in Africa
NEJM also profiled Krisana Kraisintu, the former director of research at the Research and Development Institute of Thailand's Government Pharmaceutical Organization, who in 1995 brought antiretroviral treatment to the country when she began producing generic versions of the antiretroviral drug zidovudine. In 2001, Kraisintu combined the drugs stavudine, lamivudine and nevirapine to make the fixed-dose combination drug called GPO-VIR, which sells for less than $1 a day per person. "My goal has been achieved in Thailand, I think," Kraisintu said. Kraisintu, who "spearhead[ed]" Thailand's response to HIV/AIDS, currently is working with Action Medeor, a German medical aid organization, and others to help produce generic FDCs in Eritrea, Congo and Tanzania. "I think everybody should get access to treatment. It is a basic human right," Kraisintu said (Steinbrook, NEJM, 8/19).
Webcasts and other coverage of the XV International AIDS Conference are available online at kaisernetwork.org/aids2004.