AIDS 2008 closes in Mexico

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AIDS 2008 closes in Mexico

08 August 2008

080808_logo_200.jpgThe XVII International AIDS Conference has ended in the Mexican capital today after five days of spirited participation involving an estimated 22,000 people engaged in the global response to AIDS.

Leaders, policymakers, academics, scientists and activists from around the world descended on Mexico City from 3-8 August 2008 to assess progress in the AIDS response and to identify future priorities in scaling up global efforts to stop the HIV epidemic.

Under the theme “Universal Action Now!”, AIDS 2008 has called for a renewed commitment from the international community to strengthen the scale up of HIV prevention, treatment, care and support programmes worldwide, with the aim to provide universal access to these services by 2010 and to work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals – which includes the target of halting the spread of HIV by 2015.

Preventing the transmission of HIV received significant focus during the five-day conference, as participants contributed to sessions that addressed the complexity of the epidemic and underlined the importance of “knowing your epidemic and knowing your response”. HIV prevention successes and failures to date were analyzed, leading to a greater understanding that “combination prevention” is as necessary as “combination treatment” when it comes to stopping the HIV epidemic– because for every two people that began antiretroviral treatment last year, five became newly infected.

Providing antiretroviral treatment, combating HIV-related stigma and discrimination, strengthening health systems, finding an HIV vaccine, as well as responding to broader human rights for people living with HIV were some of the other top issues discussed at the conference, the first to be held in Latin America.

While AIDS 2008 has followed the release of the UNAIDS 2008 Report on the global AIDS epidemic, which points to significant progress in reducing new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths in the past two years, the conference underscored the fact that AIDS is not yet over in any part of the world – a point stressed by UNAIDS Executive Director Dr Peter Piot and other leaders involved in the AIDS response.

At the very heart of the XVII International AIDS Conference was the Global Village, an area of over 8,000 square metres open to everyone including community organizations from around the world, local and national groups and the general public. Open and active discussions took place highlighting stories of grassroots victories along with the challenges that communities face and opportunities to improve their response to the epidemic.

The International AIDS Conference is the world’s largest HIV forum. It is held every two years and organized by the International AIDS Society, together with a series of partners including UNAIDS. The next conference will be in Vienna, Austria in July 2010.