The International AIDS Society, UNAIDS and the Royal Thai Government have concluded an agreement to hold the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, from 11 to 16 July 2004.
The agreement was announced yesterday by HE Sudarat Keyuraphan (Thai minister of public health) and Vallop Thaineua (director-general of the ministry of public health), representing the Royal Thai Government, and Dr Peter Piot (UNAIDS), and Dr Stefano Vella and Dr Joep Lange (IAS).
This will be the second time an international AIDS conference has been held in Asia (after Yokohama in 1994), but 2004 will be the first conference in an Asian country with a major HIV/AIDS epidemic. Thai officials describe Thailand as being “at the epicenter of the epidemic.”
“Thailand is ready to be the next host,” said Minister Keyuraphan. “We have fought the epidemic openly since the beginning.”
The announcement will please the many people who feel that international AIDS conferences should now always be held in countries with major HIV/AIDS epidemics, rather than in wealthy European or north American countries.
The minister gave assurances that “Thailand has no laws that discriminate, differentiate or categorise people living with HIV/AIDS,” and said that the conference would “provide an opportunity for networking for all, including people living with HIV/AIDS and those affected by HIV/AIDS.
“I pledge to make the next International Aids Conference more accessible to all peoples of the world, rich and poor, positive and negative,” she said.
Thailand has had significant successes in combating the AIDS epidemic. The annual number of new HIV infections has fallen from 143,000 in 1991 to 25,000 last year.
AIDS 2002 Conference News produced by Health & Development Networks/Key Correspondent Team