HIV/AIDS Should Be A Top International Priority, Opinion Piece Says
The HIV pandemic "still ranks at the top of this era's list" in the "hierarchy of human catastrophe," Mark Wainberg, co-chair of the XVI International AIDS Conference and director of the McGill University AIDS Centre, writes in an opinion piece in Toronto's Globe and Mail . Although more than 5,000 people die daily from AIDS-related illnesses, the disease "no longer receives the attention it once did," Wainberg writes, adding, "It is almost as if this epidemic has been with us for so long that we have become immune to it." Wainberg says the conference, which is scheduled for Aug. 13 to Aug. 18 in Toronto, will "unfold in an atmosphere of magnified worldwide attention to the myriad issues surrounding AIDS, but with fewer politicians in the crowd to hear the message than there should be, and they're the ones who need to listen." He calls on politicians to take certain measures that can prevent HIV transmission -- including promoting condom use; establishing safe needle-exchange programs; and financing the training of surgical specialists to perform male circumcisions, which studies have shown might be effective in preventing HIV transmission. HIV/AIDS advocates also must promote prevention research -- including the development of microbicides, which could help women protect themselves from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections -- and further research on pre-exposure prophylaxis, Wainberg writes. "Given the status of HIV as our common enemy in the most important war that humankind is now fighting, let's hope the political will to translate scientific achievement into successful prevention efforts will prevail," Wainberg concludes (Wainberg, Globe and Mail, 8/9).
The XVI International AIDS Conference program is available online.
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