Int'l AIDS Conference kicks off in Washington

WASHINGTON. July 23. KAZNFORM Under the theme "Turning the Tide Together", the 19th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) kicked off Sunday in Washington D.C., the first time in 22 years the conference back to U.S. soil.

The theme was selected to reflect what is considered by many as a unique moment in the history of the HIV epidemic. According to the organizers, by acting decisively on recent scientific advances in HIV treatment and biomedical prevention, building momentum for an HIV cure, and harnessing the evidence of the ability to scale-up key interventions in the most-needed settings, an end to the epidemic is now within reach, Xinhua reports.

In his address to the opening session through video, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said one year ago, the U.N. General Assembly set ambitious targets for 2015, to cut new infections by half, to put 15 million people on treatment, to ensure no child was born with HIV.

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim also addressed the conference, the first time that a President of the Group has addressed the International AIDS Conference.

The International AIDS Conference is the largest gathering of professionals working in the field of HIV, including people living with HIV and other leaders in the HIV response. It plays a fundamental role in shaping the global response to HIV and in keeping HIV and AIDS on the international political agenda.

Over the next five days, over 20,000 delegates from all over the world will gather at the U.S. capital, participating in a series of sessions, panels and community-led discussions that focus on mobilizing governments and communities to achieve the vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.

The first International AIDS Conference occurred in Atlanta, Georgia in 1985, and it was held in San Francisco in 1990. The conference was supposed to be held two years later in Boston, but the global research community refused to return to the United States because of its travel ban on HIV positive people. This ban was lifted by the Obama Administration in 2009.

There are as many as 34 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS and as many as 2.5 million new diagnoses each year, according to the UNAIDS.

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