Piot Warns Full Impact of HIV/AIDS Yet to Be Seen as International AIDS Society Conference Ends in Brazil
July 28, 2005
The full impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic has not yet been seen, as a record five million new HIV cases were reported worldwide last year and China and Central Asia are experiencing new outbreaks of the disease, UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said at the 3rd International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis and Treatment, which ended Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the AP/News24.com reports. "It's still an emerging epidemic. Just now we're getting into the globalization phase," Piot said, adding, "Globalization isn't just for profits and markets, it is also for AIDS" (Astor, AP/News24.com, 7/28). The World Health Organization also expressed concern over the rapid spread of HIV in Asia, calling for a renewed commitment to prevention methods and stronger political will. "Our greatest fear is that if the evolution of the epidemic continues at the present level, Asia will tomorrow be something similar to Africa: a great human disaster," WHO HIV/AIDS Programme Director Jim Yong Kim said (Xinhuanet, 7/28). In his closing speech, Piot urged conference attendees to "plan for the long term" while taking "emergency actions to make universal access to HIV prevention and treatment a reality" (IAS conference release, 7/27). Piot also urged donors to provide more funding for the research and development of microbicides, which could help women protect themselves from HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases without relying on their partners' consent. Currently, only half of the $300 million needed annually to develop microbicides -- which would be available as gels, films, sponges or other products -- is available, Piot said. Some researchers say an effective microbicide could become available by 2009 (Khalip/Palermo, Reuters, 7/27).
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