22 July 2010 [Vienna, Austria] The appalling lack of access to scientifically proven interventions for key populations at risk -- including sex workers, men who have sex with men and people who use drugs and the lagging scale up of simple and inexpensive treatment regimens to prevent vertical transmission of HIV reflect persistent, underlying human rights violations that threaten future progress on AIDS, according to organizers of the XVIII International AIDS Conference taking place in Vienna this week under the theme of Rights Here, Right Now.
"To deny a woman the tools and information she needs to protect and care for her own health and that of her child is to deny the value of their lives," said Dr. Brigette Schmied, AIDS 2010 Local Co-Chair and President of the Austrian AIDS Society. "Gender inequality puts women at greater risk for HIV and also means that sufficient resources are not being provided to implement even the simplest and most effective interventions," she added. Fewer than one-half of pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries who require care to prevent vertical transmission have access.
The disconnect between currently available knowledge and access to HIV prevention and treatment services for people who use injection drugs in Eastern Europe and Central Asia has also emerged as a key conference theme. Though injecting practices fuel the region's epidemic, access to scientifically sound strategies, including needle and syringe exchange programmes and opioid substitution therapy, are scarce and even illegal in many locations, including Russia.
"In Eastern Europe, just a few kilometres from Vienna, drug use is driving the AIDS 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. "The Vienna Declaration calls on the world to move beyond fears and prejudices to take scientifically-proven
|Contact: Regina Aragon|
International AIDS Society