Lack of voices from Asia at AIDS 2012

Washington DC is the host to the 19th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) with about 24,000 registered delegates coming from all around the world.  International conferences such as this one is an opportunity and a venue to get updates, innovations and new strategies in addressing HIV and turn the tides to achieve the 2015 targets of zero HIV infection, zero HIV related death and zero HIV related stigma and discrimination. US President Barack Obama had earlier made a call that AIDS free generation is possible. The conference provided loads of information on practices that worked in communities all over the world, including bio-medical breakthroughs and the latest innovations on treatment for people living with HIV (PLHIV).

This conference, had been missing voices from the Asia Pacific Region where HIV is still a burden in most of its countries and where prevalence rates among key populations is escalating. Asia representation at AIDS conferences is crucial where they can learn from many experiences presented in the different sessions and workshops.

Daniel Marguari, an advocate and activist from Indonesia observed that the voice of the Asians in this conference and that representation from Asia is limited as well. He added that majority of the support platforms shy away from Asia. In order to meet the millennium development goals (MDGs), the region needs utmost attention and support  of donors and to bring Asia back on the drawing board of support providing technical support to governments in developing strategies to address the epidemic.

A number of young people representing a few Asian countries said that a balancing act is significant so that their voices are heard and their messages of advocacy are understood.   

Roughly 4.9 million people are living with HIV in the Asian region - which is undoubtedly alarming and needs treatment, care and support while on the other hand the need for a massive push on prevention initiatives to minimize new infections is also warranted.  There is still a long way to go to achieve '3 Zeros' in the region.

Nenet L Ortega - CNS