Wednesday, 25 July 2012

AIDS 2012 addresses road safety as public health challenge

Bella Dinh-Zarr with Kweku Mandela at AIDS 2012 in Washington DC
The XIX Annual International AIDS 2012 Conference being held in Washington, DC, this week, discussed the intersection of road safety and AIDS prevention.  “Road traffic injury and AIDS prevention have a great deal in common and we have a great deal to learn from each another – they are both horrendous public health and development problems that can and must be addressed head-on,” said Road Safety Fund North American Director Dr. Bella Dinh-Zarr who spoke before a diverse audience of AIDS researchers, policy makers, persons living with HIV, and others committed to ending the AIDS pandemic. 

 Road crashes, currently causing 1.3 million deaths per year, are expected to rise rapidly in the coming years, surpassing the death toll of HIV/AIDS in less than 20 years.  “By making roads safer, we can increase access to health care and to education for women and girls, and we can reduce the risk that large vulnerable populations who are immuno-compromised will be injured in a crash,” continued Dinh-Zarr, “And just think how much public health we could achieve if we saved the 2% GDP that is spent on the costs of road traffic crashes every year in every country around the world.” 

 Also in attendance at AIDS 2012 was Kweku Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela who recently endorsed the Decade of Action for Road Safety on his 94th birthday in memory of his great granddaughter Zenani who was killed in a crash during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.  Kweku Mandela spoke on the eve of the opening of AIDS 2012 in a UNAIDS event calling for an “AIDS-free generation” and the following day, offered his support to the Decade of Action for Road Safety.

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