March 29, 2004
Drawing Attention to Southern United States
The Florida/Caribbean AIDS Education and Training Center is cosponsoring the conference, which also serves as the 13th Annual Florida HIV Conference. The AIDS Update Conference, which runs through March 30, is being held for the second consecutive year in Miami -- after being held in San Francisco for 14 years -- to continue to "direct much-needed attention to the serious epidemic in the Southeast[ern]" United States, according to the NAUC Web site (NAUC Web site, 3/29). CDC Director Julie Gerberding, World Health Organization Director of HIV/AIDS Dr. Paulo Teixeira and UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Kathleen Cravero on Saturday spoke about the status of HIV/AIDS in the United States and elsewhere. "We simply cannot go on watching millions die while we have the technical expertise, the drugs, the political commitment and unprecedented yet still insufficient financial resources to roll out drug treatments," Teixeira said (Tasker, Miami Herald, 3/28). At the opening of the conference on Saturday, Silverman said that HIV/AIDS prevention strategies should be "unified in purpose but diverse in action" to address differences in communities affected by the disease (Weinberg, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 3/28). About 2,000 AIDS experts are expected to attend the conference (LaMendola, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 3/27).
Success Threatened in Haiti
Treatment and prevention programs in Haiti have cut the country's HIV prevalence by 50% since 1993, Dr. Jean Pape of Cornell University's Weill Medical College, who directs Les Centres Gheskio, said on Sunday at the conference, according to the Miami Herald. In addition, the rate of mother-to-child HIV transmission in the country has dropped from 22% to 4%, and HIV testing has increased sevenfold, Pape said (Tasker, Miami Herald, 3/29). However, violence tied to the current political unrest in the country could undermine that progress, Partners in Health Co-Founder Paul Farmer said, adding that rebels have stolen four ambulances from PIH clinics in Haiti during the past two months. "How can you deliver community-based prevention and care if you can't get into the communities?" Farmer asked (Hernandez, South Florida Sun Sentinel, 3/29). He called for a shift in the perception of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment from a "tool delivered and withheld on the basis of cost effectiveness" to the perception of such services as a "human right," according to the Herald. "We don't know how much it costs us as human beings not to have equity, to have a situation in which some people have access to drugs and others do not. Problems can be overcome. We know we're not going to meet the goal, but it doesn't mean we should stop trying," Farmer said (Miami Herald, 3/29).
Webcasts of select sessions of the conference are available online from kaisernetwork.org.
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2004 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.