Feature International AIDS Conference

Mixed messages on progress against HIV

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g4763 (Published 25 July 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g4763
  1. Nigel Hawkes, freelance journalist, London, UK
  1. nigel.hawkes1{at}btinternet.com

Containment of the HIV epidemic is being hindered by a new wave of laws discriminating against homosexuality, heard a muted International AIDS Conference this week. Nigel Hawkes reports

The theme of the 2014 AIDS conference, which took place in Melbourne this week, was “Stepping up the Pace.” But was this a claim or an aspiration? Some AIDS scientists, including conference cochair Sharon Lewin, of Monash University, believe that recent research findings have re-energised the field by hinting at the possibility of a cure for HIV infection. But containment of the epidemic is being hindered by a wave of new laws discriminating against homosexuality, while global funding for AIDS research is at best flat, and the meeting attracted far fewer participants than the previous one, held in Washington, DC, in 2012—possibly, organisers claimed, because Australia is a long way to go. The conference was overshadowed by the death of six delegates, killed on their way to Melbourne by the downing of the Malaysian flight MH17 in Ukraine. The dead included a former president of the International Aids Society, Joep Lange, who died with his partner, Jacqueline van Tongeren, and a British media officer, Glenn Thomas of the World Health Organization. Tributes were paid to them at the opening session of the meeting.

As the conference got underway, highlights included evidence from Canada that treating newborn babies with antiretroviral …

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