Protests at AIDS 2012 continued through the week, following the first organized demonstration on Sunday. Promoting topics ranging from “tax the rich” to “D.C. statehood now,” protesters at the Tuesday “We Can End AIDS” demonstration converged at the White House, where 13 activists were arrested. The following day, a group of protesters promoting sex worker rights interrupted a special session on the role of the U.S. Congress in confronting AIDS that included five current or former members of Congress, three of whom were Republicans.
The BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – represent over forty percent of the world’s population and “nearly a quarter of its economic output.” At the same time, as noted by Dr. Motsoaledi, the BRICS contain one-third of the world’s HIV+ individuals. Over the past decades, each nation grappled with national HIV/AIDS epidemics
For the past decade, the youth movement has been an integral component of the International AIDS Conferences, and this year is no different, rather the youth are more outspoken this year than ever before. For AIDS2012, IAS organizers saw a 34% increase in youth-centered proposals for the Global Village than in previous years. Perhaps spurred by this year’s theme: “Turning the Tide Together” or maybe because they’re tired of only having a token seat at the table, this year’s youth theme is all about having the equal opportunity to make a lasting impact.
A new generation of Congressional leaders is dedicated to ensuring continued bipartisan support for HIV/AIDS funding both globally and domestically. At an AIDS 2012 session Wednesday July 25, prominent lawmakers from both parties expressed appreciation for the collaborative history of PEPFAR and said the program is a priority for them.
The many aspirational high-notes hit by speakers throughout AIDS 2012 are nonetheless tempered by some underlying realities. Funding for HIV activities has flat-lined and the health of key funding institutions, especially the Global Fund, is arguably fragile. Additionally, economic growth in Africa may be accompanied by increasing disparities between rich and poor, creating the types of vulnerabilities that drive HIV/AIDS epidemics.
Senators John Kerry and Lindsey Graham delivered strong messages of bipartisan political support for U.S. engagement on global AIDS in Monday’s plenary session of AIDS 2012. The participation of this senior Senate Democrat and Republican testified to the crucial bipartisan support that has characterized the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, since its inception.
On Sunday, July 22, at the International AIDS Conference, several organizations – the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, mothers2mothers (m2m), and Johnson & Johnson – presented on “Eliminating Pediatric AIDS and Keeping Mothers Alive from an Implementation Perspective – Best Practices, Programmatic Barriers, and Bottlenecks in the Field.” These implementing partners, working in 10 high-burden countries, highlighted some of the programmatic challenges and exciting innovations in the areas of: building capacity for country ownership, supporting continuity of care, creating demand and increasing uptake, and using data for program improvement.
In Monday’s celebrity-filled AIDS 2012 plenary session, entitled “Ending the Epidemic: Turning the Tide Together,” much of the technical information came in Dr. Anthony Fauci’s presentation of the epidemiologic and research data that are the basis for the optimistic projections of an “AIDS-free generation” to come.
As AIDS 2012 unfolds this week in Washington, D.C., activist demonstrations will take place both inside and outside of the convention center. On Sunday, July 22, shortly before the opening plenary of AIDS 2012, the “Keep the Promise” march and rally was launched at the Washington Monument with an estimated 1,000 participants. Speakers pressed for stronger political commitment and more financial resources, along with bringing back the “anger of the ‘80’s and ‘90’s” among AIDS activists. “Keep the Promise” was organized by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and was not officially affiliated with the International AIDS Society, secretariat to AIDS 2012.
In a rousing address to the AIDS 2012 conference on Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opened with “five words we have not be able to say for too long: welcome to the United States!” She then proceeded to dazzle the crowd with her passionate command of the issues and her direct discussion of many of the most fundamental and sensitive issues surrounding the HIV/AIDS response. If this is to be her legacy speech on HIV/AIDS, she will surely have left her mark.
In advance of the XIX International AIDS Conference -- AIDS 2012 -- CSIS celebrated the release of the special supplement of the Journal of AIDS focused on PEPFAR. Organized in cooperation with the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC), the event featured contributing authors and guest editors who are leading figures in PEPFAR and the international HIV/AIDS community. The roundtables engaged in fascinating and wide-ranging discussions of the successes and challenges of PEPFAR, from its inception to its future.
Any new President has a vast array of items on his or her agenda, but Malawian President Joyce Hilda Banda has managed to put forth a praise-worthy agenda for maternal health during her first months in office. Although she has inherited a government that struggled under the previous President, domestic and international supporters of Banda are optimistic that her vision for better governance could lead to needed change in Malawi.