Hosted by Irish Aid with the Irish Forum for Global Health, the 2010 World AIDS Day Lecture was held in conjunction with the Combat Diseases of Poverty Consortium, at NUI Maynooth. Keynote speeches given by Dr. Zeda Rosenberg, CEO of the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM), James O’Connor, Founding member of Open Heart House Ireland, and Robert Thornton, acclaimed author of ‘Unimagined Community: Sex, Networks, and AIDS in Uganda and South Africa’, set the scene. You can download Father Michael’s presentation slides by clicking the image below.
Father Michael began by highlighting some of the outstanding progress made to-date against HIV:
By mid-2010 life-preserving ART had reached 5.25 million people in the non-industrialised countries. Deaths from AIDS-related illnesses have dropped substantially in the past few years and continue to decline. This must be given full credit as one of the world’s most magnificent accomplishments – scientifically, organisationally, and financially. Globalisation may have helped in the spread of the epidemic, but globalisation in the best sense is helping to reverse it.
Father Michael also presented some of the specific challenges that were at the time impacting on treatment regimes, and the difficult, life altering choices many individuals and communities must face in order to overcome these challenges. He reflected upon the unnecessary transmission of HIV to women and children, particularly through mother-to-child transmission pathways:
The low status of women is at the heart of the AIDS epidemic. The central issue isn’t technological or biological: it is the inferior status or role of women. When women’s human rights and dignity are not respected, we create and favour their vulnerability to AIDS.
Father Michael implored the international community to address this tragic situation and inequitable burden, through the combined efforts of social, cultural and technological prevention measures. An audio recording of Father Michael’s message and introduction to Dr. Rosenberg’s keynote address can also be heard by clicking the play button on the left-hand side of the audio bar below: