The recently marked World AIDS Day proved to be a turning point for China in its approach towards the disease. Around the date of 1 December, diverse initiatives were organised in this large Asian country, some of scientific nature and others to raise awareness among the public on the issue.
One of these initiatives was a World AIDS Day conference that was held in Tianjin, near Beijing, between 1 and 3 December, attended by many protagonists of the struggle against AIDS: international organizations, government delegates from countries hardest hit by the epidemic, NGOs, and researchers that even included Nobel prize laureates.
The sessions of the conference focused attention on the problem of the global AIDS epidemic. The latest discoveries regarding the quest for a vaccine were discussed as well as the development and enhancing of antiretroviral drugs. The best strategies to encourage prevention of infection, and to guarantee access to currently available treatment for as many people as possible, were also debated.
During a session about “global strategies and effectiveness of prevention and control of AIDS”, we presented a study on the cost-effectiveness relationship of the service of vertical prevention of mother-to-child infection within the DREAM programme. The study shows how giving women HAART therapy throughout their pregnancy and in the early months following delivery makes intervention for vertical prevention especially effective, and moreover, its costs are restrained.
Beyond this study, DREAM raised significant interest among participants of the conference because of its holistic approach to prevention and treatment of AIDS, because of the high quality offered by the programme and due to results attained in recent years, not to mention its sustainability in African countries.