Realizing our victories.
I left the 1998 International AIDS Conference in Geneva frustrated and angry. The slogan of the conference--'Bridging the Gap'--was right on target, but none of the major players in the conference (the international agencies, governments, the big pharmaceutical companies) offered a vision, let alone a strategy, for making life-saving treatments available to the millions of HIV-positive people in poor and developing countries. As has been true since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, it was left to HIV-positive people themselves and to advocacy groups to formulate demands, mobilize the political support to challenge the status quo and lead in the development of new policies. Dramatic changes have occurred between 1998's 'Bridging the Gap' and 2004's 'Access for All' conferences. In the intervening six years, an alliance of NGOs from around the world with a bloc of progressive poor and developing countries has won significant victories: It is no longer morally acceptable to do nothing about the death and suffering of millions; The broader global AIDS community has accepted that any effective approach to stopping the epidemic must include treatment as well as prevention and mitigation. (excerpt)