Delegates Debate Funding, Access, Prevention at 14th ICASA AIDS Conference in Nigeria
"Familiar debate[s]" over a lack of HIV/AIDS-related funding, increasing access to treatment and the value of emphasizing abstinence over condom use in prevention programs were "reignited" on Monday among delegates at the 14th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa which is taking place in Abuja, Nigeria, this week, Toronto's Globe and Mail reports (Nolen, Globe and Mail, 12/6). The six-day conference, which has the theme "HIV/AIDS and the Family," is being attended by about 7,500 representatives from around the world, but a majority of them are from African nations (Xinhuanet, 12/6). Some scientists and researchers attending the conference have been involved in "intense discussion" about the best antiretroviral treatment practices in Africa, including the need to convince pharmaceutical companies to develop "Africa-friendly" versions of antiretroviral drugs, according to the Globe and Mail. Some health groups complained to Assistant U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Jimmy Kolker about not being able to receive funding from the five-year, $15 billion President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief because they work with health care providers who offer abortion services or refuse to denounce commercial sex work as U.S. policy requires. UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said that 2005 has been a "paradoxical" year in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa because there were a record 3.2 million new HIV cases on the continent, yet "major progress" has been made in providing access to treatment, with about 500,000 people now receiving antiretrovirals (Globe and Mail, 12/6).
Nigerian President Announces Launch of Business Coalition
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday in his opening remarks to the conference announced the creation of the Pan African Business Coalition, which will be modeled after a similar alliance operating in Nigeria, Xinhuanet reports (Xinhuanet, 12/4). The new continent-wide partnership will be modeled after the Nigerian National Business Coalition, which Obasanjo said has achieved "very visible results" in fighting HIV/AIDS. "The time for lip service was gone; the days of fence-sitting and superficial responses to the incurable disease were gone," Obasanjo said, adding that the possible effects of the epidemic on businesses "remain[s] frightening, and we must not watch our people and society gradually overtaken by the disease and death" (AngolaPress, 12/6).