AIDS 2012 Conference
People with disabilities have a vital role to play in the global fight against HIV/AIDS but to beat this dread disease requires sustained financial, political and scientific commitment. This was the lasting impression of the 24,000 participants who attended the recent AIDS 2012 Conference in Washington D.C.
The QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA) joined organisations and individuals from 183 countries to strategize how the tide could be turned on the HIV epidemic. QASA's message was that the inclusion of people with disabilities was a pre-condition for further success. Under the theme Turning the Tide Together delegates learned that a vaccine or cure was still crucial, but that lives could only be saved when all relevant role players were included.
During the weeklong conference latest scientific developments and strategies to find a cure were shared. QASA offered valuable support in the Global Village, where the conference activities were centred. This initiative galvanised the efforts of people with disabilities, youth, AIDS activists and young scientists who will all play an important role in the future fight against AIDS.
Another clear messages of the conference was that Disabled People's Organisations (DPOs) should continue to invest in prevention at grassroots level, while working to restore a future of hope and health in their own constituencies. QASA's Rolling Positive response to HIV is a prime example of this. It involves a high degree of partnership between government, DPOs and civil society sharing a commitment to care for and support people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and to ending the HIV epidemic.
AIDS 2012 united attendees around the goal of eradicating AIDS even as we move toward our South African goal of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.