Organizers of the International AIDS Society 2012 meeting to be held in Washington, DC, hosted a press conference Friday introducing key meeting partners to the media and highlighting the progress that needs to be made in the district’s own HIV epidemic.
“This conference will be remembered as another pivotal moment in the epidemic,” said Elly Katabira, IAS president and international chair of the 2012 meeting. It has been 22 years since the U.S. hosted an IAS meeting, and this is “an important opportunity focus on the epidemic in DC and the nation at large,” Katabira said.
HIVMA member and Local Co-Chair of IAS 2012 Diane Havlir, MD, said this is an important opportunity to bring HIV back in to the national dialogue and to showcase the advancements made in the scientific community. In the clip below, she speaks about the important role science will play at the meeting next summer.
DC Mayor Vincent Gray, noting his delight to host the meeting and to work with people around the world to make it successful, said that in DC HIV incidence is 300 percent higher than the national average. The farther East you go in the district, the higher the HIV prevalence especially among African American men, he said, and a lot of work needs to be done. The mayor and Dr. Mohommad Akhter, director of the DC Department of Health, then revealed a four-pronged plan to better address the epidemic in DC, including efforts to sustain treatment for those recently released from prison and immediate introduction to HIV treatment or so called “treatment on demand” for those who test positive for HIV.
Gray also commented on recent push-back from the federal government on DC clean needle exchange programs, potentially preventing the district from spending its own money on such prevention programs, which Gray said have been very successful, and called the move “ill-advised.”