BANGKOK AIDS CONFERENCE NOT LIVING UP TO ITS BILLING.
By Marcel Girodian
The XV International Aids Conference in Bangkok has the noble theme, "Access For All." According to the conference promoters, "we will ensure that all voices, all experiences and all concerns are represented." Unfortunately the truth falls short of the hype. All voices are not being represented, and access for all is not being granted, with regard to some very fundamental and critical issues.
Let's take the issue of HIV testing. In the US, most of Europe and Australia, a person is not considered HIV infected until a minimum of two criteria have been satisfied--testing positive first to a screening test, which is usually an ELISA test, and then to a confirmatory test, which is almost always the Western Blot. In the US, in fact, if the ELISA is positive, it is usually repeated, then if positive again the Western Blot is run. And if that's positive, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that the entire set of tests be run again, on a new blood sample, to reduce the chances that the tests could be reacting to one of the over 70 common conditions that are documented to cause false positives.