The 18th International AIDS Conference started this Sunday, July 18, 2010 in Vienna. Over 20,000 people working in the area of HIV, including policymakers, legislators, researchers and people living with HIV from 190 countries are joining the conference. The theme for this year's conference is Rights Here Rights Now, which emphasizes the central importance of human rights in responding to HIV.
ABS-CBN News Austria learned that there are high caliber participants at the Conference. Among them are: Annie Lennox, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Heinz Fischer, Federal President of Austria, and HRH Mette-Marit, Crown Princess of Norway.
According to the organizers, one of the highlights of the Vienna conference is to focus its attention to the situation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. These regions are presently experiencing a fast growing epidemic largely through unsafe drug use. It has been reported that almost 1.5 million HIV positives are living in these regions.
“I see the importance of this conference. Though I am not directly participating, I do hope that the people behind this worthy cause can do something to reverse the HIV epidemic,” Manolo Reyes, a nurse in Vienna who is working with HIV patients in a Viennese hospital.
Larry Subido, also a Filipino nurse at the Baumgartner Höhe in Vienna’s 18th District, said authorities involved in the AIDS problem should first of all work hand in hand by preventing the spread of drug use, and then by providing treatment to addicts.
A Filipino United Nations employee who does not want to be identified and had attended previous conferences said that the need for a global treatment, care and prevention had been discussed in a number of AIDS Conferences, though the challenge of prevention is still a big problem. ”It is my hope and pray that the discussion now in this meeting will be more candid, more reflective toward a shared global responsibility,” the UN employee commented.
The 18th World AIDS conference in Vienna will bring together some 25,000 experts, health professionals and policy makers to discuss progress in fighting AIDS. It is expected to end on July 23, 2010 with the hope of arriving to concrete ways to provide further prevention and treatment against HIV virus.