The Beginning Of The End To The AIDS Epidemic

A declaration calling for global support to end the AIDS epidemic was announced recently (10.7.2012) by the International AIDS Society (IAS) and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). This Washington, D.C. Declaration, which seeks to build broad support for beginning to end the AIDS epidemic through a 9-point action plan, will be the official declaration of the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012),  which will take place in Washington, D.C. from 22 to 27 July 2012, and bring together some 25,000 delegates, including HIV professionals, activists, global and community leaders and people living with HIV. The conference is co-chaired by Elly Katabira, President of the International AIDS Society and Diane Havlir, MD, chief of the UCSF Division of HIV/AIDS at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Centre.

Recent scientific advances, including evidence of the dramatic benefits of HIV treatment as prevention, have dramatically altered the landscape of the epidemic, providing a renewed sense of optimism that it is possible to have a much greater impact on these numbers and turn the tide on HIV. At the end of 2010, an estimated 34 million people were living with HIV worldwide, an increase of 17% from 2001– largely the result of greater access to treatment. Yet, for each person who goes on treatment, two more are infected.

“While we undoubtedly still need a cure and a vaccine, we can save millions of lives with the knowledge we have today if we fully implement the proven strategies we now have to treat those living with HIV and prevent new infections. Our ultimate success, however, depends not just on adequate resources, but also on upholding the human rights and dignity of all those affected by HIV and engaging them fully in our collective response to the epidemic.” said Professor Diane Havlir.

The declaration aims at Turning the tide against the HIV/AIDS epidemic through new scientific advances, and societal, political and human rights gains. This would require concerted leadership at all levels of government, health systems, academic and non-governmental organizations for multi-disciplinary approaches that respect and uphold the human rights and dignity of all people affected by the epidemic.

The Washington, D.C. declaration calls for:
1. An increase in targeted new investments;
2. Evidence-based HIV prevention, treatment and care in accord with the human rights of those at greatest risk and in greatest need. This includes men who have sex with men, transgender individuals, people who use drugs, vulnerable women, young people, pregnant women living with HIV, and sex workers, as well as other affected populations;
3. An end to stigma, discrimination, legal sanctions and human rights abuses against people living with HIV and those at risk;
4. Marked increases in HIV testing, counselling and linkages to prevention, care and support services;
5. Treatment for all pregnant and nursing women living with HIV and an end to peri-natal transmission;
6. Expanded access to antiretroviral treatment for all in need;
7. Identification, diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis through integrated HIV and TB services, so that there is No more living with HIV but dying of TB;
8. Accelerated research on new tools for HIV prevention and treatment, including novel approaches such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and microbicides, treatment as prevention, vaccines and a cure;
9. Mobilization and meaningful involvement of affected communities as leadership of those directly affected is paramount to an effective HIV/AIDS response.

In the words of Dr. Elly Katabira, President of the IAS and International Chair of AIDS 2012, “In a scenario unthinkable just a few years ago, we now have the knowledge to begin to end AIDS in our lifetimes.  Yet, at this moment of extraordinary scientific progress and potential, the global response to AIDS faces crippling financial challenges that threaten past success and future progress. Through this declaration, we stand together to call on world leaders across all sectors to provide increased resources, visionary leadership, and a full-fledged commitment to seize the opportunity before us.”

The declaration ‘calls upon all concerned citizens of the global community, in the spirit of solidarity and joint action, and with the fullest engagement of the community of persons living with HIV, to seek renewed urgency to expand the global AIDS fight. The challenges ahead are great, but the costs of failure will be greater. We must act on what we know. We must start the end of AIDS--Together.’

Shobha Shukla - CNS
(The author is the Managing Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS). She is a J2J Fellow of National Press Foundation (NPF) USA. She has worked earlier with State Planning Institute, UP and taught physics at India's prestigious Loreto Convent. She also authored a book on childhood TB (2012), co-authored a book (translated in three languages) "Voices from the field on childhood pneumonia" and a report on Hepatitis C and HIV treatment access issues in 2011. Email:, website: 

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Citizen News Service (CNS), India
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