The Opening ceremony was a long drawn affair as usual with 20,000 people from 185 countries in attendance.
I was moved by the speaches of the Russian activists Sasha Volgina and Vladimir Zhoviac. Their presentation was titled ‘We are dying less but we are dying faster’ and drew attention on the struggle of drug users in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Only 1 in 100 drug user has access to ARVs.
Here is a poster that was on the that was on the toilet door.
Overall the update on the epidemic was quite optimistic with reports of 10 out of 20 high prevalence countries where there has been a 25% reduction of new infections.
The opening also included a very good session by Dr Sharon Lewis on Progress For a Cure, which is quite an amazing thought.
Political presence was good with speeches from Austrian Ministry of Health and the President of Austria.
Demonstrations from activists were really vocals and highlighted the need to continue to invest in AIDS, in spite of the recession. How come governments found money to bail out banks, but there are insufficient funds to really make universal access to treatment, prevention and care a reality?
Here are some images on the protest: