Kaisernetwork.org Daily Video Round Up From XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Tuesday, Aug. 15
Former U.S. President Clinton on Tuesday in a session about leadership at the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto called the trend in new HIV cases "alarming." While the Clinton Foundation has focused much of its efforts on expanding access to HIV care and treatment, Clinton reaffirmed his support for expanded testing.
"I just don't believe we can reverse this if we keep having more people infected every year than we are increasing the number of people on medication," Clinton said. "And if we keep having 90% of the people not knowing their status, I don't see how we can do that. Just as no government organization can win the fight against AIDS alone, prevention, care and treatment are intertwined. And we cannot realize universal treatment, and I'll say again, let alone stop AIDS, unless we also see prevention as a part of a mutually dependent strategy," Clinton added.
At the same session, U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis mourned the lives already lost to AIDS-related illnesses. "That's a matter of excruciating pain and unconscionable political neglect about which historians will one day write," Lewis said. He added, "And nothing will stand out more in the judgment of history than the toll on women, old and young."
Microbicides as a method of HIV prevention for women have received much attention at the conference, but other methods of HIV prevention -- such as diaphragms, female condoms and sexually transmitted infection control -- also have been discussed.
While expectations are high for new HIV prevention tools, International AIDS Society President and CEO of CARE Helene Gayle said that even current prevention methods are still out of reach for many. "For every person currently receiving treatment, about four people became infected in the last year alone. So we must urgently accelerate access to prevention tools that we know are already available," Gayle said. "In addition, we must accelerate the development of a new generation of prevention approaches and assure that once they're available and we know that they are effective that we do all within our power to make them accessible to those who need them the most as soon as possible," she added.
Cristina Pimenta of the Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS Association cautioned against relying on new prevention approaches as a "magic solution." She added, "With all these advances in prevention technologies, we have to be careful not to go for medicalization of prevention. Because even with these technologies, we're talking about people, and we're talking about behavior and attitudes."
The media can play a role in shifting the public's outlook on HIV/AIDS, according to actor and activist Richard Gere. With storylines that help viewers empathize with those affected by HIV/AIDS, entertainment can help reduce HIV-related stigma. "That to me is the important thing that media can do and is unique in many ways to what we can offer," Gere said. Messages that inform and educate media consumers about how to protect themselves from contracting HIV are equally as powerful, he said (Braden Balderas, kaisernetwork.org, 8/15).
A kaisernetwork.org daily video round up from the conference for Aug. 15 is available online.