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More Questions than Answers as Global AIDS Conference Wraps Up
Philip Stevens, Kristen Veblen, Campaign for Fighting Diseases, 8-17-06

Stevens and Veblen offer a brief recap and analysis of the events that unfolded during the global AIDS conference in Toronto this week.

It's been a fascinating week in Toronto mixing with the global AIDS community. Some 30,000 delegates from around the world made the trip. The majority of these people make their living from the HIV/AIDS industry. There have been some encouraging policy developments, not least on prevention. But an air of unreality still clings to most of the discussions.

Activists are desperate to make access to AIDS treatment a human right—a demand which ignores the obvious question of who will have to pay for that right to be fulfilled. Most delegates1 view of sexuality is at odds with the conservative nature of the societies that carry the highest burden of HIV/AIDS. Sometimes they seem to be more concerned with social engineering than dealing pragmatically with the disease within the context of societal norms.

The next few years will most probably see prevalence rates leveling off in the worst–hit countries, but new epidemics emerging in countries such as China and the former Soviet Republics. We have the knowledge of how to limit the damage of HIV/AIDS. The question is, will the world learn from past experience, or will we continue the same failing approaches?

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