Time to Deliver
The International AIDS Conference took place August 13-18, 2006 in Toronto, Canada. The theme of this conference was "Time to Deliver" -- and after more than a dozen years of attending this biannual meeting I am pleased to report that the theme might as well have been "Time to Deliver FOR WOMEN!" Finally! From small breakout sessions and affinity groups to a powerful opening plenary talk delivered by Louise Binder, a Canadian activist and HIV positive woman, women were everywhere. Bill and Melinda Gates, Stephen Lewis, Bill Clinton, and former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, were just a few of the dignitaries who demanded action on issues ranging from prevention technologies, to treatment and care access, to policy and human rights issues for women living with HIV. This meeting provided a venue for women to speak up, speak out, and be heard. Now we face the real challenge -- turning all of this energy and determination into action!
Take heart that we are seeing action all around us now. Women's organizations and advocates around the globe are creating networks and coalitions to work together. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has begun to put more pressure on drug companies to research their products in women during drug development. If companies do not include women in studies, they may not receive full approval for medicine without doing a special study with women. In fact, several companies are already working on ways to include more women in clinical trials. One of those companies, Tibotec Therapeutics, is about to launch a study called the GRACE Study (which stands for Gender, Race, And Clinical Experience). The GRACE Study will enroll 70% WOMEN and only 30% men in North America -- which will be a first in the US. Perhaps most importantly, women living with HIV are becoming involved in their communities doing advocacy or peer education, and many are speaking out publicly.
It is time for women living with HIV to be heard, to take leadership, and to make sure that our needs are met as we help shape and move the research agenda forward.
So what do I ask of you? Join us. Join other women living with HIV or affected by HIV and be a part of the solution. Get involved in research -- planning it, supporting it and even participating in it. Figure out what you want to know most about living with HIV and help us fi nd answers. It is time to deliver.
Dawn Averitt Bridge is an HIV positive mother of 2 girls, Founder of The Well Project (www.thewellproject.org), and a women's advocate. The Well Project convenes the Women's Research Initiative on HIV/AIDS to improve the lives and quality of care for all women living with HIV disease.
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This article was provided by Women Organized to Respond to Life-Threatening Diseases. It is a part of the publication WORLD Newsletter. Visit WORLD's website to find out more about their activities and publications.