AIDS Conference: Must Do Better Reaching At-Risk Populations

Posted July 26th, 2012 at 9:30 am (UTC-5)
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The International AIDS Conference enters its next to last day putting a focus on the impact the disease is having on key, at-risk populations.

One doctor who works with homosexual and transgender patients in Uganda told the conference Thursday the biggest challenge remains getting those at risk of contracting HIV – the virus that causes AIDS – information about how to protect themselves.

Doctor Paul Semugoma also said too many physicians fail to ask their patients about their sexual histories. Still, he told the conference he is hopeful efforts to fight AIDS are “turning the tide.”

On Wednesday, the United Nations Children's Fund called for expanding AIDS prevention and treatment for women beyond their pregnancies.

UNICEF's Chewe Luo said most countries do not automatically continue anti-AIDS drugs for HIV-infected women after their babies are born.

She also said girls 10 to 18 years old are often ignored by global HIV testing, prevention and treatment programs.

Wednesday also saw protests and counter protests outside the convention.

Members of the U.S. Westboro Baptist Church gathered outside the convention, holding signs blaming the AIDS epidemic on homosexuals, calling them sinners. They were met by counter-protesters.

The United Nations says 34 million people live with HIV-AIDS, and 1.7 million died from the disease in 2011.