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Thursday, 19 July 2012

AIDS 2012: The Canadian role continues

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Next week the world will congregate together for the nineteenth world AIDS conference.  The first conference held in 1985 just as the outbreak was commencing, now the international spectacle meets every two years.  Three of those meetings have been held in Canada. 

The alignment of international public health efforts to control HIV infection is a model for other disease control international efforts, and the effect of international collaboration has demonstrated that we are stronger and more capable as a collective than working as 200 plus fiefdoms.  That so many countries continue to contribute and align their efforts behind the work done by the International AIDS Society is a tribute to it and its member country and organizational affiliates.  

As with many conferences, you can follow daily progress on line without attending AIDS 2012 home page. But, as with many conferences, the 10-20,000 expected attendees and multiple concurrent activities makes attendance and tracking activity a challenge.  That 3600 abstracts were accepted for the conference puts a whole new sense of the challenge of multitasking. 

What actually brought this issue to light was Canada released a self-congratulatory press release on its successful incorporation of Aboriginal issues into the 2012 conference agenda PHAC announcement.  That Canada should shout its accomplishments related to HIV and AIDS loudly was the focus of the year beginning posting HIV progress celebrating Canadian contributions, as such this is on the surface a welcomed announcement.

The announcement begged the first question of what does this actually look like and the program security is sufficiently daunting that it is unclear what this stream will entail but it is not inherently obvious from the information on the website.

Secondly, is what is the purpose behind the PHAC announcement?   PHAC has issued about a dozen press releases all year, half of them related to new HIV funding announcements in March.  So a press release is an unusually and somewhat unique event.   That Aboriginal issues will receive a greater presence in the main agenda is great, but the circumstances around the press release are suspect.  If it is a commitment to a new openness and efforts by PHAC to be transparent and to celebrate their good work – this has been a long time coming and we should welcome the change in operation.

It is disturbing that when PHAC issues a press released, the first question is why? What are they really up to?  Lets hope a change is in the winds. 

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