The world has made great strides since the International AIDS Conference was first held in Durban in 2000, when AIDS denialism was leading to limited access to life-saving antiretroviral drugs and donor spending on AIDS activities amounted only to a small fraction of current funding levels.
The landmark AIDS 2000 conference served as a catalyst for historic change, launching a global movement to bring life-saving treatment to the developing world, and paving the way for passage of the UN General Assembly’s Declaration on HIV/AIDS and the creation of The Global Fund and PEPFAR. It also solidified the role of civil society and advocacy organizations as important drivers of success. It was AIDS 2000 that forever changed the course of the AIDS epidemic and the global response.
Today, nearly 16 million people are on HIV treatment worldwide. In South Africa, new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths are on the decline, and the country is home to the world’s largest HIV treatment programme. Yet, sixteen years later we find ourselves at another pivotal moment in the epidemic. Many of the obstacles that impeded effective HIV prevention and treatment programmes in 2000 still exist today and the HIV epidemic risks spiralling beyond our reach without renewed investments, delivering effective prevention and treatment to all those in need and prioritizing research to find additional prevention options, an effective vaccine and a functional cure.