BBC NEWS
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC News UK Edition
 You are in: Health  
News Front Page
World
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Medical notes
Education
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
CBBC News
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Friday, 5 July, 2002, 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK
Much rides on the Aids conference
HIV
HIV is devastating lives across the world
Genevieve Clark, of the HIV charity The Terrence Higgins Trust, gives a personal view of the challenges facing the UNAIDS conference in Barcelona.


"Earlier this week, UNAIDS released grim global statistics on the staggering numbers of people facing life and death with HIV and AIDS.


The reluctance of drug companies to let poorer countries manufacture their own affordable versions of the drugs has infuriated activists everywhere

It is against this backdrop that 14,000 AIDS experts and activists from around the world will gather for the 14th International AIDS Conference in Barcelona.

It will be the largest ever debate on how to combat this virus which has swept the world in just 20 short years.

Access to treatments for people in poorer countries will be a hot topic.

Thousands of people are expected to join a march on Sunday in protest at the profits drug companies make on HIV treatments.

The organisers of the march estimate that just 1% of people living with HIV around the world have access to drugs which can keep them alive and healthy.

The high cost of treatments, and the reluctance of drug companies to let poorer countries manufacture their own affordable versions of the drugs, has infuriated activists everywhere.

Rallying call

Terrence Higgins Trust will be calling for business and governments to work together to provide effective, usable treatments to people all over the world, not just in countries that can afford to pay for current drugs.

A recent study found that a quarter of people newly diagnosed with HIV in the US are infected with a strain of the virus resistant to one of three possible treatment options.


Prevention becomes crucial when there is no cure

In fact, there are a small number of people infected with a strain of HIV resistant to all possible treatments available today.

This places the spotlight firmly on the advances in medical treatments and understanding of HIV which will be announced at the conference.

News, too, can be expected on progress towards a vaccine for HIV.

Sadly, for many poorer countries, a vaccine may be their only hope to halt the spread of this pernicious virus.

Of course, drugs - affordable or not - are not the end of the story.

Leadership needed

Without clear political leadership, the epidemic will never be brought under control. Political leaders in Asia and Eastern Europe could learn valuable lessons from Uganda and Zambia.

Those two African countries have been hard hit by HIV, but through sheer political will, they have turned their epidemics around.

Fewer people are being diagnosed with HIV year on year now - something we haven't managed here in the UK.

Prevention becomes crucial when there is no cure.

Terrence Higgins Trust and other organisations will also be sharing experience of work to give people the information and skills they need to protect themselves against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Colin Powell, US Secretary of State, will be joined at the conference later this week by former presidents Clinton and Mandela.

It is to be hoped that their leadership, will inspire others to put everything at their disposal towards halting this terrible epidemic.

There is much riding on five short days in Barcelona."


Key stories

Personal view

Analysis

CLICKABLE GUIDE

FORUM

TALKING POINT
See also:

05 Jul 02 | Health
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes