This year’s International AIDS Conference has opened in Washington. The week long gathering pulls together activists, scientists and medical academics to discuss the progress being made in the prevention and treatment of the disease.
Celebrities are among those offering their support although President Barack Obama is not planning to attend but will address the conference by video link.
On display outside the conference hall are portions of a memorial quilt. The panels which if placed end to end would stretch more than 60 kilometres tell the stories of some of the half-million Americans who have died because of AIDS.
Christo Greyling from ‘World Vision’ gave this response while viewing the quilt.
“For me as a person living with HIV myself for 25 years, I thought I would be included in this (quilt). But I’m alive. And to stand here and to see this, and realise how many people have gone before, and… if we get enough resources and commitment and funding, then many of these other people do not need to die as well,” he said.
Although the number of HIV positive people developing AIDS is decreasing there is still no cure. The emphasis at the conference will be on ‘treatment as prevention’ via better use of anti-retroviral drugs.