Iranian, Israeli, Lebanese, Palestinian Delegates at AIDS Conference Address HIV/AIDS in Middle East
Iranian, Israeli, Lebanese and Palestinian physicians, researchers and scientists, as well as Iranian delegates, on Tuesday at the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto addressed HIV/AIDS in the Middle East, AFP/Khaleej Times reports. Inon Schenker, a physician at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said, "In a troubled region like the Middle East, it is important to mention that the researchers are proving that HIV can bring people together." Schenker added, "We are not politicians, but ... we are able to demonstrate that it is possible to sit around the same table and discuss research and a key issue like HIV/AIDS and saving lives." Mark Wainberg, co-chair of the AIDS conference and director of the McGill University AIDS Centre, praised the group for demonstrating "solidarity" in the struggle to combat the disease. According to Jocelyn DeJong, a researcher at the American University of Beirut, "Stigma is the main obstacle to AIDS research and care in the Middle East. Governments are reluctant to ask questions about sexual behavior, particularly outside of marriage." She added that the region lacks political leadership on the issue. UNAIDS estimates that 510,000 people in the Middle East are living with HIV, although some experts say that the actual figure likely is higher (AFP/Khaleej Times, 8/16).
Kaisernetwork.org is serving as the official webcaster of the conference. View the guide to coverage and all webcasts, interviews and a daily video round up of conference highlights at http://www.kaisernetwork.org/aids2006.