After 22 years, the International AIDS Conference has finally returned to American soil. And with more than 23,000 delegates from over 195 countries, it is bigger than ever! The theme this year is “Turning the Tide Together” and it marks the critical moment in history in which society has just emerged on the winning side of the fight against HIV/AIDS. HIV rates in many countries have stabilized, ARV therapy has significantly reduced mortality, more people with HIV have access to adequate healthcare and, as Michel Sidibé stated at the conference, “The number of people receiving ARV treatment worldwide is now larger than those without.”
Since the conference was not officially opening until later in the evening, IFMSA spent most of the first day setting up the IFMSA booth inside the global village. The global village is the hub of the conference for the IFMSA as it is the place where HIV/AIDS organizations from across the world display their hard work to conference participants and the public. In fact, it is the only area inside the conference that’s open to the public!
At 7pm the opening ceremonies for AIDS2012 began! “Condoms are still the cheapest and most effective method in preventing HIV. It is time for all of us to condomize!!!” announced Sidibé.
Some speakers at the conference included World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim (pictured above), UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, celebrities and many more!
The speakers’ talks reflected the “Turning the Tide” theme. Most speakers expressed the desire to have an “AIDS free generation” and emphasized that more work and funding is still needed to “bridge the gap” between the people receiving adequate care and the millions more who are not. “Now I want you to close your eyes and listen to my words: we can end AIDS. And this opportunity will be missed out if we do not act now; if we do not eliminate mother to child transmission; put 35 million people on treatment and prevent new HIV infections” said Sebelius.
“As I look out to you today I can actually see the end of AIDS” exclaimed Jim Yong Kim, closing his speech.” Do you agree? Do you think International AIDS Conference 2012 will become a significant part of history in turning the tide against HIV/AIDS?
Contact: Josko Mise, [email protected]