aids conference
July 18 and 19 marked the beginning of the 20th annual International AIDS Conference. It was kicked off with a youth pre-conference event, in which young people gathered to discuss how their voices could be heard in the fight against AIDS. Upon leaving, they set forth a new slogan for the approach to AIDS in Africa: “Treat, reform, educate, love.”

The pre-conference event produced a Youth Action Plan, calling for all regional, national and international discussions on AIDS to incorporate the voices of the youth. Their focus is to be included in all AIDS advocacy, policy and treatment.

Young people have been particularly active in the AIDS fight over the last year, coming together to become involved in important decisions. Their main goal has been to see investment in high-impact programs around the world that provide help for young people on the ground.

With 2015 right around the corner, a main goal of young people is for the global post-2015 agenda to have a focus on AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. They emphasized that by putting the health, well-being and human rights of young people at the forefront of the agenda, poverty and sickness can be reduced drastically around the world. Starting with youths is the best way to see real change.

Another idea that both youths and adults are pushing is the necessity of ending the stigma that is associated with AIDS in order to see an end to the disease. The adults at the AIDS conference shared many of the same beliefs that the youth called out in their event. In the end, the pre-conference emphasized to the young people the importance of joining the already established groups in order to work together to make progress in fighting AIDS.

Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS, encouraged the youths assembled to “get organized and mobilize as a movement with clear political objectives. Build alliances with other youth sectors toward common goals, and together we will end the AIDS epidemic.”

– Hannah Cleveland

Sources: All Africa, Devex
Photo: Housing Works

AIDS conference
The 20th International Aids Conference took place July 20 -25 and was held in Melbourne, Australia.  The aim of the conference was to create a forum where people could address the problematic impact of AIDS on a global scale.

Speakers at the conference included founder and former U.S. president Bill Clinton, U.S. Global Aids Coordinator Ambassador Deborah Brix, USNG’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia Michel Kazatchkine, among others.

The Melbourne declaration for the International Aids Conference states that in regards to HIV/AIDS, it is vital that everyone, “…call for the immediate and unified opposition to discriminatory and stigmatizing practices and urge all parties to take a more equitable and equitable approach through the following actions.”

The declaration then lists actions such as insisting that “governments must repeal repressive laws and end policies that reinforce discriminatory and stigmatizing practices and increase vulnerability to HIV, while also passing laws that actively promote equality,” that “all healthcare providers must demonstrate the implementation of non-discriminatory policies as a prerequisite for future HIV program funding” and that “restrictions on funding, such as the anti-prostitution pledge and ban on purchasing needles and syringes, must be removed as they actively impede the struggle to combat HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and hepatitis C among sex workers and people who inject drugs.”

The 2014 AIDS conference had 12,000 attendees from over 200 countries across the globe and was sponsored by the International AIDS Society (IAS).  In addition to raising awareness, the conference also acted as a forum where researchers could present new findings for how to address and hopefully end this epidemic.  The conference included information about other projects like the Global Village and hosted satellite meetings in order to serve as a networking platform to combat HIV/AIDS.

– Jordyn Horowitz


Sources: AIDS 2014, IA Society, USA Today
Photo: USA Today