Friday, August 11, 2006

International AIDS Conference -- Traveling Mercies

The 16th International AIDS Conference begins tomorrow in Toronto. I won't be there this year, but I have attended some of the previous conferences. More than 20,000 researchers and clinicians from around the world are expected.

At previous conferences major breakthroughs have been announced. It would be wonderful if that would happen again. The numbers are staggering -- 38.3 million people around the world living with HIV, 3 million people dying of it each year.

I just read the U.S. government has sharply limited the number of CDC and NIH scientists who are being allowed to go to the conference. For those who are there, it may be hard to explain why it is that the U.S. continues to promote abstinence-only-education programs as a central component of our global strategy and why US monies cannot go to programs that reach out to sex workers. It seems immoral that so much of the U.S. AIDS work allows politics and ideology to trump science and prevention.

I have to admit I'm glad I'm not off to an international airport this morning. The lines look staggering and the new regulations mean giving up one's lipstick, water bottle, iced latte, and carry on cosmetics. I thank God but more importantly Scotland Yard for foiling this attempt. I cringe though how people like Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman are using it to attack those who are against the war in Iraq. I will continue to pray for peace...and for the safety of all of those traveling to Toronto today.

Have a blessed weekend.

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