At the 2005 G8 summit, First World countries made a commitment to see access to HIV/AIDS treatment provided universally. That deadline has loomed, but solutions to the problems have not, although they will form the focus of the 2010 International AIDS conference, to be held in Vienna in July.

‘Rights Here, Rights Now’ is the theme for this year’s conference, underscoring the importance of securing wider human rights as a prerequisite for effective HIV prevention and treatment programs.

“Universal access is a commitment that wealthy nations made to Africa and millions of others living in low and middle income countries,” president of the International AIDS Society, Dr Julio Montaner said. “Failing to live up to this promise will increase suffering for millions worldwide and has implications, not only for HIV, but the broader aims of global health and development.”

The focus on promoting human rights, it is hoped, could stop the level of stigma around HIV, which has been shown to impact upon people’s willingness to seek HIV testing and treatment.

Overcoming the stigma attached to men who have sex with men, injecting drug users and sex workers will also be key.

“Stigma and discrimination are undermining public health,” conference co-chair Dr Brigitte Schmied said.

“Failing to follow the science and to implement scientifically proven interventions, such as harm reduction, condom distribution and access to treatment and care leads to an inefficient use of resources we cannot afford.”

The weeklong conference begins on July 18. Topics include human rights and epidemiology, ART advances, harm reduction policies and political accountability.

For those who can’t make it to Vienna, conference organisers, for the first time, have arranged for ongoing updates to be made available online, via Facebook, Twitter and a live blog.

info: For more information on topics and speakers for the 2010 conference, visit www.aids2010.org. To keep up to date with progress online, join www.facebook.com/aids2010

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