After thirty years of the HIV global pandemic, a vast amount has been learned about HIV and AIDS, but not enough to cure it. What started as the appearance of an unknown cancer affecting only homosexual males in America has become one of the most dominant global health issues today. By 2009, there were 33 million people infected with HIV/AIDS and around 2 million deaths from AIDS.
On June 13th, at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on AIDS, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a global commitment to eliminate AIDS by 2020.
“That is our goal – zero new infections, zero stigma and zero AIDS-related deaths,” Ki-Moon said.
This strong statement challenges all of us in the global health community to reflect on current knowledge and to seek rapid response solutions. Once considered a death sentence, now prevention efforts include all levels of public health interventions: primary, secondary, and tertiary. The efforts of public health professionals in the field of HIV/AIDS are complex and include ideas of drug adherence, primary HIV transmission prevention, MTCT, and new innovations such as microbicide gel and the female condom.
With over 130 sessions, the Global Health Council 2011 Conference (GHC) carried the theme of "Securing a Healthier Future in a Changing World" and focused on topics ranging from non-communicable diseases to maternal health. However, the United Nations recent call for HIV eradication in the next nine years positions eliminating HIV/AIDS as a monumental step toward a healthier future. Some of the sessions at this year’s conference highlight the need for new and improved strategies for HIV education, prevention, and treatment -- all of which encourage new innovations in the area of HIV/AIDS.