WHO at the Fifth Francophone Conference on HIV/AIDS
Casablanca, Morocco | 29-31 March 2010
The 5th Francophone Conference on HIV/AIDS brought together hundreds of scientists, activists, policy makers, political leaders, and UN agency representatives to share knowledge and experiences, improve collaboration, and mobilize further support for the HIV response in Francophone countries.
The conference showcased the latest advances in HIV science, highlighted Francophone countries' achievements in combating the epidemic, and confirmed the crucial role civil society groups have played, both as global and country-level advocates and as vital sources of experience and expertise.
In a plenary session, Dr Teguest Guerma, Director of WHO's HIV/AIDS Programme, presented WHO's latest normative guidance, which calls for earlier diagnosis and treatment of HIV patients. If widely adopted, WHO's new recommendations will dramatically reduce the number of new HIV infections between 2010 and 2015. Dr Carla Obermeyer, also from WHO's HIV/AIDS Programme, discussed global coverage trends for HIV testing and counseling and factors impeding access to testing in low- and middle-income countries.
Participants at the conference reiterated the need to place human rights at the centre of any effort to respond to HIV. They examined ways to combat the drivers of the epidemic, such as poverty, violence, gender inequality, xenophobia and homophobia. They also unanimously agreed that more financing is necessary to combat HIV, as recent estimates show that current financing trends will need to triple if the response to HIV is to keep pace with the epidemic. "We will not let poor people die of AIDS", said Dr Guerma, to strong applause.
Previous conferences were held in Montreal (2001), Lyon (2003), Brussels (2005) and Paris (2007). The 6th francophone Conference on HIV/AIDS will take place in Geneva in 2012.