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XIX International AIDS Conference Concludes In Washington, D.C.

“The XIX International AIDS Conference [AIDS 2012] drew to a close Friday without the physical presence of President Obama but with a full cast of other high-profile U.S. politicians who expressed their commitment to ending the disease,” CQ HealthBeat reports (Norman, 7/27). The conference closed “with the message that getting treatment to more of the world’s 34 million people with HIV is key to curbing the epidemic, short of a vaccine and cure that still are years away,” the Associated Press adds (Neergaard, 7/27). “Presenters at AIDS 2012, from senior government officials and heads of international organizations to civil society leaders and scientists, all echoed that for the first time in the history of AIDS, an end to the epidemic is on the horizon,” an UNAIDS feature article writes, adding, “However, speakers cautioned that there are still numerous challenges that must be addressed before the international community reaches zero new HIV infections and zero AIDS-related deaths” (7/27).

“Former U.S. President Bill Clinton addressed the conference’s final session,” noting “treating HIV-positive patients in some African countries is less costly than previously thought,” VOA News notes (Presto, 7/8). “Clinton, whose charitable foundation has been a major force driving down the price of life-extending antiretroviral drugs, said maintaining momentum is the most important thing,” the Washington Post writes (Brown/Sun, 7/27). According to Agence France-Presse, “Clinton highlighted the $16.8 billion spent worldwide last year on the three-decade-old pandemic, remarking that for the first time funding by individual nations exceeded foreign assistance,” “noted progress in bringing down the cost of treating people with HIV worldwide,” and “called for changes to the system, saying that money could be spent more effectively and should not be influenced by political interests” (Sheridan, 7/28). “The search for a cure was a prominent theme at this week’s conference, the Wall Street Journal’s “Health Blog” notes (McKay, 7/27). UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe “said there needs to be more cure research,” VOA adds (7/27). “Another urgent priority, many said this week, is preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV,” according to the Washington Post (7/27).