Next week you need to know about . . . the International Aids Conference


As the fight against HIV and Aids finally shows progress, the 19th annual International Aids Conference, a week of discussions, speeches, symposiums and exhibitions, begins tomorrow in Washington DC.

For the first time since the 1980s there is optimism that global efforts to curb rates of infection and death are finally bearing fruit. A major UN Aids report published last week revealed that the number of deaths reduced from 1.8 million in 2010 to 1.7 million last year, while new infections dropped from 2.6 million to 2.5 million.

The success is largely down to the spread of antiretroviral treatment in low- and middle-income countries, where eight million people are taking drugs that suppress the virus.

Further good news comes with the approval of an HIV-prevention drug, Travuda, which can help prevent at-risk people becoming infected, and the recent publication of research by Stanford chemists that brings the hope of a cure closer.

It is the first time the conference has been held in the US since 1990, and was possible only because the US president, Barack Obama, lifted a ban on HIV-positive people entering the country. Obama has stirred controversy by not attending; former presidents George W Bush and Bill Clinton will address delegates, and Elton John will deliver the opening speech.

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