With the objective of informing the public about what is going on at the 3rd International AIDS Society conference in Rio de Janeiro, a goup of NGOs decided to run a parallel forum, known as the Community Forum.
Experts in the forum were committed to explain what scientists and researchers are discussing at the conference.
According to Willian Amaral, the vice president of the For Life Group, there is concern regarding the financial situation of the Brazilian government’s AIDS treatment program.
For Amaral, the program has a budgetary shortfall of around US$ 168 million (400 million reais) for this year. He points out that 70% of the program budget is spent on just three retroviral medicines.
Brazil’s AIDS treatment program provides free medication to anyone with AIDS/HIV.
“The new minister of Health, Saraiva Felipe, has to take a close look at this problem. With the prices that international pharmaceutical companies charge, it is going to be hard for the government to maintain its goal of universal access to AIDS treatment in Brazil,” said Amaral.
The 3rd International AIDS Society conference began on Sunday and ran until yesterday. Around 5,000 specialists from around the world participated. Researchers from 114 countries submitted papers, out of which 2,060 were selected to be presented.
Among those attending the opening ceremonies were the president of Botswana, Festus Gontebanya Mogae; the special UN envoy for AIDS/HIV in Africa, Stephen Lewis; the head of Brazil’s AIDS program, Pedro Chequer; the president of the NGO, For Life (Pela Vida), Octavio Valente; and Brazilian composer and singer, Caetano Veloso.
A report will be issued on progress in three areas: basic science, clinical treatment and prevention of AIDS/HIV. The next AIDS conference is scheduled for 2007 in Sydney, Australia.