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International AIDS Conference wraps up

International AIDS Conference wraps up

AIDS representatives speaking at the end of the International AIDS Conference 2008, which took place in Mexico City from 3-5 August, have emphasised the need for a combined prevention package.

“There is a lot of work that needs to be done. It needs to be done and it must continue but we can’t sit down and wait for a vaccine the way things are going. People working in the prevention field have now coined combination prevention strategies as the way forward,” said Dr Julio Montaner, AIDS 2010 International Chair and IAS President 2008 – 2010.

Up to 25,000 delegates from across the globe including people living with or affected by HIV, professionals from fields of scientific research, health, social services, development, and human rights took part in the five-day conference, which bore the theme “Universal Action Now!”

Before the conference, the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance held a pre-conference entitled “Faith in Action Now!” for faith-based organisations.

FBOs concluded that a stronger faith-based action and better partnerships were needed in the response to HIV and AIDS.

While the Catholic Church provides a significant portion of AIDS services, especially in developing countries, its contribution often goes unrecognised at international conferences.

During the Mexico conference, Rev. Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo, Special Advisor on HIV for Caritas Internationalis, took part in panel presentations on “Faith in Action on the Margins”.

Meanwhile, representatives from Catholic groups who participated in a Caritas-organised meeting at the conference have proposed the establishment of a global Catholic AIDS network aimed at boosting the Church’s profile in responding to the pandemic.

Dr Pedro Cahn, AIDS 2008 International Chair and IAS President 2006 – 2008,  said that there needs to be an element of accountability at the next international AIDS conference in Vienna in 2010.

“We need to sit down and see what were the commitments at Mexico. Did they succeed? What were our failures? Let’s analyse them and find the reasons for failure. We have to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes over and over again in this epidemic,” he said.