Kaisernetwork.org Daily Video Round Up From XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Thursday, Aug. 17
Sessions at the XVI International AIDS Conference on Thursday addressed the need for a coordinated and comprehensive approach to HIV that includes elements some HIV/AIDS advocates say often are overlooked.
"Protection of human rights is an HIV prevention strategy. It's not an add-on," Mark Heywood of South Africa's AIDS Law Project said, adding, "We've reached the point in the AIDS epidemic globally where we have many resources, many technologies that are available both for prevention and for treatment, which give us the capability to save hundreds of thousands, potentially millions of lives both in terms of people already infected and in preventing new infections. And what that does is it puts an even greater onus on governments to provide the political leadership to make sure that health systems and governance gets those technologies and implements them in a way that is effective in curtailing and mitigating the AIDS epidemic."
Kerrel McKay of Jamaica's Portland AIDS Committee called for young people to play a critical leadership role in stopping the spread of HIV. "HIV/AIDS is affecting the world, but the fastest and hardest hit is our young," McKay said. "Therefore, there is no need for convincing that the right mechanisms should be in place to combat this epidemic and fast," he added.
An analysis of the potential effects of funding scale-up for treatment in developing countries shows it is possible to curtail dramatically the long-term economic impact of HIV, according to Jean-Paul Moatti of the University of Marseilles. "It is worth investing in domestic response, and it is very important to do it as soon as possible," Moatti said, adding, "That is why we say, 'time is costly.' And adding to that to some extent -- adding to that at the macro level, at the level of global economic policy of a country -- this is very important."
Initial scientific findings presented at the conference by Leigh Peterson from Family Health International showed potential promise for safely reducing the risk of HIV transmission with a daily dose of the antiretroviral drug tenofovir. Dubbed pre-exposure prophylaxis, the idea of PrEP is to offer another protection option. "What we know works are condoms," Peterson said. "The problem is that not everyone is able to negotiate condom use at all times, so we need additional tools in order to help these women and men protect themselves in these particular cases where they cannot negotiate condom use. If this is found to be effective, and there is widespread use, we will always say that this needs to be used with condoms. It won't be a mono treatment," she added. Researchers caution that while preliminary trial results showed the drug tenofovir is safe, the number of HIV cases that occurred during the study was not enough to show statistical significance to conclude that PrEP works (Braden Balderas, kaisernetwork.org, 8/17).
A kaisernetwork.org daily video round up from the conference for Aug. 16 is available online.