The 16th international AIDS conference was held in Toronto from August 13–18, 2006, with approximately 20 000 participants making it the largest ever. Over 38 million persons are living with HIV while 4.1 million people were newly HIV infected and 2.8 million died during 2005 (1). Sub-Sahara Africa continues to be most affected with 24.5 million persons living with HIV/AIDS. The epidemic continues to grow in South Africa and India, among injection drug users (IDU) in Eastern Europe, among IDU and men who have sex with men (MSM) in South East Asia and among young black MSM in the United States of America (USA). There are
many hidden HIV epidemics affecting marginalized groups including mobile populations, refugees and internally displaced persons. Pre-existing stigma associated with vulnerable and marginalized groups is aggravated by HIV related stigma, which continues to drive the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Structural factors, gender inequity and infringement of rights all contribute to increased social vulnerability and spread of HIV. Although developed countries and a small number of developing countries have made definite progress in controlling their epidemics, 25 years after the first report of AIDS in 1981, the HIV/AIDS pandemic continues to outstrip the response.
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