18 July 2010 [Vienna, Austria]Encouraged by recent progress but wary of signs of possible retrenchment, an estimated 20,000 participants from more than 185 countries have assembled in Vienna for the start of the XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010) today. Under the theme of Rights Here, Right Now, experts described the state of the epidemic, noting the central role of human right protections to success, and outlined the critical choices facing world leaders in the year ahead.
"For the first time since the development of lifesaving treatments for HIV there is evidence of game-changing scenarios demonstrating that sustained and widespread access to antiretroviral treatment can save lives and help reverse the epidemic," said Dr. Julio Montaner, AIDS 2010 Chair, President of the International AIDS Society and Director of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in Vancouver, Canada. "At this promising moment, we must stay the course."
Vienna was chosen as the host city for AIDS 2010 in part due to its proximity to Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA), a region with a growing epidemic fueled primarily by injecting drug use. Conference delegates will examine the epidemic in EECA, as well as in all other regions. Home to two-thirds of all people living with HIV and AIDS, Southern Africa remains the most heavily affected region globally.
In a strong show of local support, Austrian President Heinz Fischer and Minister of Health Alois Stger welcomed delegates. Other speakers included: South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe; European Union Commissioner of Health and Consumer Policy John Dalli; and community representatives Vladimir Zhovtyak and Alexandra (Sasha) Volgina, from Ukraine and Russia, respectively. Youth activist Rachel Arinii Judhistari from Indonesia, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidib and singer/songwriter/activist and UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador Annie Lennox also addressed delegates.
|Contact: Regina Aragon|
International AIDS Society