World's biggest aids congress in Vienna
An estimated 20,000 participants from over 185 countries are taking part in the 18th International AIDS Conference that began in Vienna on Sunday. The head of the International AIDS Society, and conference chairman, Julio Montaner rebuked politicians for failing to deliver on their promise, saying that only a third of the 15 million people who need potentially life-saving AIDS drugs currently get them. "We have treatments that work, we have shown that this can be done (...) what we need now is the political will to go the extra mile to deliver on universal access," he said. "We have a serious problem with the political leadership globally and we have to fix it."
On July 8th, scientists from the US National Health Institutes reported the latest success in fighting the disease. In the blood of an HIV infected person, the researchers discovered two powerful antibodies that neutralize 91% of HIV strains. "The discoveries we have made may overcome the limitations that have long stymied antibody-based HIV vaccine design," Peter D. Kwong, chief of structural biology at the NIH Vaccine Research Centre, said in a news release.
In Vienna, a brief video message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon kicked off the six-day forum. Ban Ki-Moon urged countries to stick to their commitments on AIDS. A report published at the conference by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) found that overall support for the global AIDS effort from donor nations flattened out last year in the midst of the global economic crisis. In 2009, the Group of Eight leading wealthy nations, the European Commission and other donor governments provided $7.6 billion for AIDS relief in developing nations, compared with $7.7 billion in 2008, the report said.