AIDS at 25: Celebs swarm to Toronto AIDS Conference

Bill Weintraub

Bill Weintraub

AIDS at 25: Celebs swarm to Toronto AIDS Conference


Actors and Rock Stars Get Top Billing at International AIDS Conference

The Canadian Press (CP)

July 24, 2006 Monday


Alicia Keys, Barenaked Ladies among stars on bill for AIDS conference kickoff


TORONTO (CP) _ Once a stage for big-name scientists to showcase their latest research, the International AIDS Conference is also attracting another kind of star power-- actors, singers, politicians and business magnates who lend their status to raise awareness and funds for global causes.

The 2006 instalment of the biennial AIDS conference _ to be held in Toronto next month _ will kick off with an opening ceremony and concert featuring a who's who from the world of entertainment and HIV/AIDS activism.

The star-studded Aug. 13 concert lineup includes Alicia Keys, the Barenaked Ladies, the Blue Man Group, Our Lady Peace, Amanda Marshall and Chantal Kreviazuk.

Opening ceremonies will include remarks by actor Richard Gere, Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean and UNAIDS executive director Peter Piot, followed by the concert.

The event will conclude with a keynote address by Bill and Melinda Gates, whose charitable foundation supports a variety of HIV/AIDS programs, followed by a performance by Canadian opera star Measha Brueggergosman and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Invited guests also include actors Sandra Oh and Olympia Dukakis, who will be showcasing their film Three Needles, which features differing perspectives on the AIDS pandemic. Former U.S. president Bill Clinton and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, a UNAIDS special representative, are also slated to attend the conference.


Besides the 25,000 tickets being given to conference delegates for the opening ceremony and concert, an additional 20,000 will be sold to the public, with prices ranging from $35 to $150. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster by calling 416-870-8000 or by visiting ticketmaster dot ca.

''It's always a benefit to the work we do when we can get people who can attract media and can attract attention that can sway public opinion to work on our behalf,'' said Lori Lucier of the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT), which helped organize the concert and will receive some of the proceeds for its programs.

''This is killing thousands of people every day,'' Lucier said of HIV/AIDS, ''and yet it doesn't get the kind of mind-share and heart-share that one would expect. Perhaps because it's overwhelming.

''So if it's Richard Gere, if it's the crown princess, whoever it is . . . I don't think it takes away from these conferences,'' she said Monday. ''In fact, I think it adds to them because it adds the community piece, the mobilization of the masses that really needs to happen if something significant is to happen around HIV.''


Quite a star-studded event.

And Lori Lucier of the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) is thrilled: She claims that the presence of folks like Richard Gere and the Norwegian crown princess will add to "the community piece, the mobilization of the masses that really needs to happen if something significant is to happen around HIV.''

Somehow it's difficult to think of Richard Gere and the future Queen of Norway as being part of the masses.

Now, where have we heard of AIDS Committee Toronto (ACT) before?

Oh yes.

They're the people who teach gay men how to enjoy their butts during casual gay sex, and who organized the bathhouse tours for virgins just last year, replete with free playing cards depicting such health-inducing acts as felching.

ACT will be one of the beneficiaries of ticket sales for the opening ceremonies and concert.

20,000 tickets are being sold, and figuring a median price per ticket of $75, they can expect to raise $1,500,000.

Quite a chunk of change coming ACT's way.

When I talk about the need for DONATIONS to this Alliance, this is what I mean.

They can raise a million dollars in one event.

Whereas I have to beg you guys each and every month to send in five dollars or maybe ten.

How on earth do you expect anything to change?

Fact is, ACT will spend that cool million or so on programs that pimp for anal and promiscuity.

That's what they do.

You know that's what they do because you can read about in that link I just gave you.

And that's just one AIDS Service Organization in one Canadian city.

Our opponents have hundreds of millions of dollars available to be spent on the sort of programs that Gavin Kirk described in his "Situation in Scotland" post.

Programs such as the development and mass marketing of comic books with nelly characters who get buttfucked, aided and abetted by their best friends, Johnny (that's Brit slang for condom) and Lube.

What actually happens at these international AIDS conferences?

Well, as we reported in 2004, which was the last time one of these extravaganzas was held -- in Bangkok -- there was a giant condom, described as a "victory monument," displayed; an Australian women's group declared that prostitution is liberating; and a male high school student from Uganda who said he was abstinent was booed.

You can read all about it here: AIDS Inc Cashes In.

But you don't have to take my word -- or that of Mr. Pinkerton of the LA Times -- for it.

Here's yet another account of Bangkok 2004 from the NY Times:

The New York Times

July 16, 2004 Friday

Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Column 2; Editorial Desk; Pg. 21

Bragging in Bangkok

By Laurie Garrett.

The view from Bangkok 2004 is disheartening, even appalling.

What began in 1985 as an annual gathering of scientists, aimed at sharing laboratory findings and information from the battlefronts in the war on H.I.V., has been transformed into a meeting of 17,000 consultants, bureaucrats and activists fighting one another for money to build a huge global AIDS treatment program, employing tens of thousands of people.


But this Bangkok gathering is witnessing the worst science ever presented at an AIDS meeting. Nearly half the scientific presentations expected simply failed to materialize, leaving bare white walls where there were supposed to be thousands of bits of useful data. To be blunt, top H.I.V. laboratory researchers simply don't come to the international gathering anymore, finding it irrelevant.


Scientists I know all over the world are demoralized. They have hit extraordinary intellectual obstacles in trying to outwit this dastardly microbe. They no longer feel part of this international AIDS community and have no global platform. And were they here today in Bangkok, they would discover to their sad amazement that few of the 17,000 people in attendance care. They are far too busy offering up their services as consultants.

[emphases mine]

Big business.

Which is exactly what Mr. Pinkerton said in the LA Times.

And which President Museveni attempted to speak to as well.

What can we expect to happen this year in Toronto?

The New York Times

August 8, 2006 Tuesday

SECTION: Section F; Column 1; Health&Fitness; THE DOCTOR'S WORLD;

Pg. 1

Talking About AIDS, With All the World Watching


By Lawrence K. Altman, M.D


As in previous years, noisy protests are likely to punctuate the conference, adding to a circuslike atmosphere and making it seem more like a convention and social gathering than a scientific meeting.

The AIDS conferences are not intended to set agendas or to pass resolutions -- like conferences on the environment, for example -- or even to reach a consensus on how to fight the disease. A few major advances have been announced at the international meetings over the years, but most gains have been incremental, as is true for meetings in other fields.

For these and other reasons, a number of leading scientists have stopped attending, choosing to present their findings elsewhere. The United States is paying for about 175 people -- government employees and representatives of nongovernmental agencies -- to attend.

Some scientists continue to go wherever the conferences are held to attend refresher courses, learn of new findings and listen to reports from disciplines to which they are rarely exposed.

These scientists say they believe the activism and diversity of the participants are critical to keeping AIDS in the news. Still, some supporters complain that the quality of the scientific presentations has declined at recent conferences.

[emphases mine]

"more like a convention and social gathering than a scientific meeting."


There will be a lot of discussion about how to make more money off of AIDS.

In the meanwhile, the very respected journal AIDSMap reported that ABC programs, which are quite cheap to implement and run, are having success in countries other than Uganda:

Aidsmap dot com

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

ABC prevention successes claimed in Nigeria, Kenya

By Theo Smart

Some PEPFAR funded ABC prevention projects are having an effect on behaviour according to presentations at the PEPFAR’s 2006 Implementers meeting, with reports of delayed sexual debut in Nigeria and reduction in the number of sex partners in East Africa. Although it is too soon to assess the impact of these interventions on HIV transmission, data were presented from other countries, in particular Kenya, demonstrating that these behavioural changes do correlate with lower HIV prevalence rates.

One of the criticisms of PEPFAR’s ABC prevention platform has been that it is quite difficult to get people to change their sexual behaviours, and yet, a growing body of evidence suggest that people do adopt (or at least report adopting) practices to reduce their risk of infection -- even abstinence.


[emphasis mine]

Change in sexual behavior -- "primary behavior change" -- is what we advocate.

And it works.

When an effort is made to bring it about.

Will such an effort ever be made in the US?

Not by the analists.

And not by our government -- it favors abstinence and abstinence alone, and even were there to be a change in control of Congress in November, no one's going to support a male-male sexual act like Frot.

We make the effort.

We support primary behavior change.

As in: FROT -- not anal.

What's at stake?

Here's yahoo's summary of the state of the epidemic:

UNAIDS says 2.8 million people died of AIDS last year and 4.1 million people became newly infected. Using a condom remains the only safe method of penetrative sex. A vaccine for HIV remains beyond the horizon, although an effective microbicide -- a virus-killing vaginal or anal gel -- could be available within a decade, scientists hope.

Yahoo says, "Using a condom remains the only safe method of penetrative sex."

But that's not true.

Using a condom is not "safe."

It's "safer."

And it's only truly safer in vaginal.

According to Buchbinder et al, using a condom is NOT safer in anal.

And the Surgeon General of the United States agrees.

So why does the American AIDS establishment continue to push condoms on gay men?

Maybe because it's not an AIDS establishment, but an ANAL establishment.

In our next installment of AIDS at 25, we'll look at just how well those gay condom campaigns are doing in our nation's very own capitol -- Washington DC.

Bill Weintraub

© All material Copyright 2006 by Bill Weintraub. All rights reserved.

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