Pubdate: Mon, 14 Aug 2006
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2006, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Kevin Connor, Sun Media
Cited: 16th International AIDS Conference
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)


Providing Tools to Protect Women Against HIV Will Turn AIDS Tide: Melinda Gates

TORONTO -- The global AIDS battle has to focus on tools to protect 
women from HIV in order to turn the tide of the epidemic.

"We have to put the power in women. That's how we change the 
epidemic," Melinda Gates said on the opening day of AIDS 2006, the 
16th International AIDS Conference.

"We need tools to benefit women (who in many countries are 
second-class citizens) who have to rely on men for condom use."

Melinda Gates and her Microsoft-founder husband Bill Gates, who last 
week donated $500 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, 
Tuberculosis and Malaria, delivered the keynote address at the 
opening ceremonies last night.

The world will never deal with all the treatment needs if it doesn't 
start to improve prevention, said Bill Gates.

"We will require all actors and governments to dig deep for universal 
treatment. The need is larger than any one foundation can supply. HIV 
is the planet's public enemy No. 1," said Dr. Mark Wainberg, 
co-chairman of AIDS 2006 and director of the McGill University AIDS Centre.

"New drugs improve the quality of life in a dramatic fashion, but 
there are inequities in the world with access to HIV drugs - they are 
a right not a privilege," Wainberg said.

After 25 years battling AIDS, the world is starting to see results, 
said Peter Piot, the executive director of UN AIDS.

"It's now time to move from crisis management to a sustainable 
response. The need for access to drugs will still be there in 40 
years, so we need an increase in prevention or we will never be able 
to afford it," Piot said.

The Canadian government was chastised at the 2006 opening ceremonies 
because Prime Minister Stephen Harper was not attending the conference.

"I am dismayed Mr. Harper isn't here. He isn't showing leadership on 
the world stage. His actions send a message that AIDS is not a 
critical priority," Wainberg said at the opening ceremonies.

He went on to criticize Harper's lack of support for needle exchange 
programs to help prevent the spread of HIV.

"Canada should not follow countries (the United States) that have 
little to teach us about public health," he said.

The U.S. AIDS policy states no American funds will be spent in the 
global fight against AIDS on needle exchange. The U.S. AIDS policy 
also promotes abstinence over condoms.

"Preaching abstinence is wilfully blind to human nature. Canada is 
committed to the international effort to fight AIDS," said federal 
Health Minister Tony Clement.

"We will continue to fight until it's done. At home we are ramping up 
spending from $42 million to $84 million in 2008."

About 24,000 delegates and 3,000 journalists from around the world 
are expected to gather for the conference, drawing celebrities like 
former U.S. president Bill Clinton, UN special envoy Stephen Lewis, 
and actors Richard Gere, Sandra Oh and Olympia Dukakis.

A star-studded concert, featuring Alicia Keys, Barenaked Ladies, Our 
Lady Peace and Chantal Kreviazuk, was expected to be held following 
the opening ceremonies. 
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