AIDS activists in Bangkok, Thailand, on Tuesday protested what they say are exorbitantly high registration costs for the upcoming International AIDS Conference, to be held July 11-16 in the city, Agence France-Presse reports. The current registration fee for the conference, which ironically carries the theme "Access for All," is $1,000 plus another $250 in Thai taxes, putting the cost for the conference well out of reach for AIDS sufferers and activists from developing nations. The registration fee also does not include meals or accommodations for the six-day conference.
"It's access for all except if you're a poor person," Karyn Kaplan of the Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group told Agence France-Presse. "It's one of the most expensive AIDS conferences to date. The reality is that access is still very limited."
Nimit Tien-udom, director of Thailand's ACCESS Foundation, says the high registration costs for the conference have been debated several times in conference planning committee meetings. "If the registration price is lowered, we can have many more attendees," he says, "but they have not made any changes." The International AIDS Society, one of the conference organizers, says it has made 2,300 scholarships available for the conference, more than half of which went to people from developing countries.