© August 2006 - Toronto AIDS Conference By Bryen Dunn, Toronto Info@bryendunn.com
The streets of Toronto are abuzz this week with thousands of delegates and media types converging for the 16th annual International AIDS conference.
The slogan “Time to Deliver” is being used to bring forth the fact that this disease has now been with us for some 25 years, and still most levels of government in many of the advanced western nations are providing little assistance with the research for a cure.
Statistics are indicating that numbers are on a fast incline and hundreds of thousands are being affected every year. In fact, Governor General Michaëlle Jean was quoted at the opening ceremonies stating, “Last year more people died of AIDS than the total population in Toronto.” It was relevant statement to make, putting things in perspective to the average individual with not much understanding of the scope of the worldwide epidemic.
AIDS is finally being recognized as a disease not just associated with the gay men and drug user demons of the world. In fact, the highest increase of infections is now being seen in straight women and aboriginals.
Also in attendance at the star-studded opening ceremonies were various members of parliament, including David Miller and Dalton McGuinty. However, missing in action was our newly elected Prime Minister Stephen Harper. This did not go unnoticed by anyone in attendance, and in fact there was a very strong vocal bashing, and shouts of “Shame” could be heard throughout the Skydome (Rogers Centre).
There were some VIP’s from the United States that journeyed north of the border as well, including former President Bill Clinton, and mega-moneyman Bill Gates and wife, who recently donated half a billion dollars toward international research efforts.
The opening ceremony was followed by a contingent of musicians who gave up 10 minutes of their busy schedules to do a song or two for the visiting throngs and to the locals who bought their tickets through Ticketmaster, who again showed their greed by not waiving or donating the service fees to a worthy cause.
Performances by the Bare Naked Ladies, Our Lady Peace, Alicia Keys and more played to the enthusiastic crowd. Then again, if you’re a researcher or media member covering a subject as depressing as the AIDS epidemic, I’m certain there’s a need for a release outlet once in a while.
Other celebrity endorsements came by way of Actor/Activist Richard Gere who is tying his star power into various youth awareness campaigns around the world. Gere made mention of the effectiveness of both the “Stop Speed” Russian campaign and the “Wrap It Up” campaign in Africa, which have both been successful in educating youth about protection methods.
He stated, “AIDS is the true terrorist on the planet today.”The conference is jam-packed full of events, not only at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, but throughout the city.
The website http://www.aids2006.org/ is so full of information that it is basically a non-resource of information.
For program at a glance, visit http://www.aids2006.org/PAG/ProgrammeAtAGlance.aspx and for the more entertainment focused events, visit Global Village at http://globalvillage.aids2006.org/English/home.aspx.
The most important message to take away from this event is to educate yourself and others about AIDS and what it means to today’s society. Do your research.
Published on juicystuff.ca