July 23, 2010
Today is the last day of the XVIII International AIDS Conference. I hope you have enjoyed following UNAIDS' first blog, which, over the past 11 days, has provided daily updates on what we have been learning.
As the selection of posts -- and the media coverage coming out of Vienna -- demonstrate AIDS 2010 has harnessed the momentum that has been building around HIV prevention, including for young people who are leading the prevention revolution.
One of the highlights has been the encouraging news surrounding the CAPRISA proof of concept study that added to the growing HIV prevention results reported at the conference. The potential of having a woman-initiated and -controlled prevention option boosted visibility for all HIV prevention options.
On treatment, voices were concerted and loud. The progress we have witnessed in the past several years of now having 5.2 million people on these lifesaving drugs was noted, but it was clear at several events, from sessions to press conferences and protests, that we have to do more to ensure the 10 million people in need of treatment have access to it. UNAIDS made the case for Treatment 2.0 outlining what will be required to radically simplify the treatment platform to make it more affordable and accessible.
The conference theme of "Rights Here, Right Now" acted as a unifying element for delegates. Our vision of reaching zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths can not be reached until we can restore dignity to people and ensure their rights to health are respected.
I spoke with many people working on the AIDS response in their own countries who are concerned about the lack of progress for most-at-risk populations. Being in the gateway city to Eastern Europe and Central Asia, I am troubled by the news that there is increasing HIV prevalence and decreasing programmes in this region. And in all parts of the world, we know that HIV services do not always reach people who need them the most: Women, injecting drug users, children and young people, sex workers, men who have sex with men, and transgender people.
The ongoing global financial crisis permeated most discussions. As we move from an era of abundance to austerity, my message throughout the conference has been that we need to ensure investments reach more people. For the first time, we have seen reductions in investments. Of particular concern is that many European countries have not met their commitments?they have given USD $600 million less than they did in 2008. It's clear that we should not stop investments when we are showing results for people. The Global Fund needs to be fully funded. Donors must meet the 0.7% target for international aid, and the Abuja target of 15% for health must not be buried.
As this was my first International AIDS Conference as Executive Director of UNAIDS, I was especially moved -- and humbled -- by the support from the people I have had the honour to meet.
Thank you for sharing your stories, your challenges, and your optimism. Together, we have much work to do between now and AIDS 2012 in Washington, DC. Expectations have been set, and it is my hope that will show even more results on what has been a defining moment in the AIDS response.