In July 2014, Melbourne will play host to more than 14,000 researchers, medical experts, advocates and representatives of people living with HIV / AIDS at the AIDS 2014 Conference. The theme for AIDS 2014 is “Stepping up the Pace” (of action to reduce infections and deaths).
With AIDS 2014 having such a large expected turnout, and a theme which indicates commitment to working towards eliminating HIV / AIDS, does RESULTS have scope during preparations for AIDS 2014 to play its customary role of focussing on issues which receive little attention or strong advocacy from other people?
The answer is a very clear “yes,” for two reasons which the regional AIDS conference, the International Congress on AIDS in the Asia-Pacific (ICAAP) held in Bangkok in November, highlighted.
· The proposals by international working groups for post 2015 development goals (tentatively, the Sustainable Development Goals) place less emphasis on health goals than the Millennium Development Goals, and say very little about specific diseases such as AIDS and TB. One of the panel sessions at ICAAP had the title “Disappearing Act? AIDS and Development in the Post 2015 agenda.”
· The deadly combination of TB and HIV still receives little recognition, even among people with a strong HIV focus. The daily newsletter at ICAAP on 21 November contained an article “TB / HIV: Why is ICAAP silent?” See: http://icaap11.org/index.php/media/newsletters. This article noted that at least 170,000 people are co-infected with HIV and TB in South-East Asia and at least 50,000 people with HIV die from TB in South-East Asia each year. However, few sessions at ICAAP and few of the activists and advocates in the region have made the TB and HIV combination a priority.
In our preparations for AIDS 2014 in Melbourne, RESULTS is aiming to break the silence on HIV and TB. At ICAAP, Sarah Kirk (RESULTS Australia’s Global Health Consultant) and I promoted with potential partner organisations a TB/HIV Networking Zone at AIDS 2014, where the various people interested in both diseases (including researchers, activists and community representatives) can share information and ideas for action.
In addition, with our international partners in ACTION, we are developing proposals for several papers and workshop topics for AIDS 2014 which will address issues such as:
· Obtaining additional resources for combating TB and HIV;
· How to reach the 3 million people who are not diagnosed or treated for TB;
· Reaching the most vulnerable populations for AIDS and TB.
AIDS 2014 will provide a number of opportunities for RESULTS volunteers to raise the profile both of RESULTS and of our work on HIV and TB:
· The RESULTS Australia National Conference is taking place on the weekend preceding AIDS 2014 (19 and 20 July 2014).
· The ACTION partnership is planning to have a booth at the Conference, at which we will be able to engage with Conference participants on HIV-related issues and also about RESULTS Australia’s work and role.
The AIDS 2014 Conference runs from 20 to 25 July 2014, and if you can spend some extra time in Melbourne following the RESULTS National Conference, you would definitely be welcome to be one of the volunteers helping to break the silence on TB and HIV and promoting RESULTS at the same time.
As a preview of the type of activity we can undertake, a short video of RESULTS’ CEO Maree Nutt, speaking at the AIDS 2012 Conference in Washington DC is also available on our web site: http://www.results.org.au/our-actions/other-events/aids-2014/.
Global Health Advocacy Manager