WASHINGTON - A major international AIDS conference wrapped up in Washington on Friday with a clear sense that an end to the epidemic is possible, given sustained financial, political and scientific commitment.
Sim Kimsen, deputy chairman of the Cambodia’s National AIDS Authority, said Cambodia needs access to cheaper drugs for treatment, “which will hopefully help reduce new infections.”
Activists are lobbying for cheaper drugs for less developed countries, like Cambodia, to help curb the spread of the disease.
A new study released at the conference confirmed that patients who are treated early with medication and therapy for HIV were able to live healthy lives.
That’s a major change from the earliest days of the disease, former US president Bill Clinton told the conference.
“Back then AIDS was a death sentence, and those of us who are old enough to have been fully grown then still have lots of painful memories of our friends who did not survive,” he said. “Then, we couldn't really imagine an end to the epidemic. Now all of you have created the possibility.”
Scientists have now identified key priority research areas that include studying the cellular and tissue sources of persistent HIV in people who have been treated long term with antiretroviral medication.
Cambodia shared its own experience with the disease at the conference, having brought its infection rate down in recent years.
This included political commitment, proper program management, partnerships with international donors and NGOs and design of an effective strategy, said Peter Godwin, an international AIDS consultant. “I think those four things plus, of course, the extraordinary commitment and capability of the young Cambodians who actually run the program.”