U.S. and Thai activists plan protest of AIDS conference
July 08 2004 12:00 AM ET
More than 1,000 U.S. and Thai AIDS activists are planning to protest the opening of the 15th International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, on Sunday to call attention to failures by governments worldwide in fighting the disease, Thailand's Nation reports. The activists, organized by Thailand's AIDS Access Foundation and the U.S. group Health GAP, will call for increased worldwide access to antiretroviral treatments and greater financial support for international AIDS initiatives by wealthy nations. Asia Russell of Health GAP says the United States and other Western nations are "backtracking" on funding pledges to global AIDS efforts at the same time financial need is increasing. The activists also are protesting the $1,000 late registration fee for the Bangkok conference--which rises to $1,250 when Thai taxes are added. The price is too high for many HIV-positive people, researchers, and AIDS activists from developing countries, the protesters say. "To tackle HIV/AIDS is partly about an exchange of information between scientists and infected people," Russell says. "But such a high price damages opportunities for an open exchange."