Monday, August 14, 2006

Toronto AIDS Conference

At the Toronto AIDS Conference running August 13-18, actor Richard Gere called AIDS the "true terrorist in the world today". Bill Gates said his philanthropy to the AIDS cause would be "a lifelong endeavour", and that he gains optimism by talking to people who are benefiting from donations and drawing on the energy of scientists and activists. Bill Clinton called AIDS "a breathtaking human tragedy", adding that "with resources and investment, people in the developing world will do well".

Sounds encouraging. But if our heads of state refuse to treat AIDS as a medical emergency (for example by attending conferences like this), we're even further away from the goal of relegating it to the status of smallpox. Their inexplicable resistance adds another unnecessary battle to the war on AIDS... the first one against the disease itself, the second one against those who have the power to direct more resources into the first battle. I hope that wherever our Prime Minister is, he's listening and learning that AIDS needs to be treated like the biggest social and medical emergency of the 21st century.

Incidentally, the conference is being blogged like crazy, here's one.