AIDS advocates protest stigma, discrimination

According to a Kaiser Network article,

HIV/AIDS advocates in Mexico City have begun protesting the problems of stigma, discrimination and a lack of access to antiretroviral drugs in Latin America ahead of next week’s XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, Agence France-Presse reports (Rosenthal, Agence France-Presse, 7/29).

A number of conference speakers will address stigma, discrimination, and other issues that discourage people from accessing HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention.

South African Justice Edwin Cameron justice will lead a plenary discussion about some countries’ criminalization of people living with HIV/AIDS who do not disclose their status to their sexual partners.

According to the Kaiser Network, Malaysian AIDS Council President Adeeba Kamarulzaman will “host a discussion on legal obstacles to fighting the spread of HIV among injection drug users. Kamarulzaman said a lack of needle-exchange programs and methadone programs, as well as criminalization of injection drug use, are fueling the spread of HIV among IDUs and discouraging them from receiving HIV tests.”

The article goes on to address other issues to be discussed at the Conference:

Pedro Cahn — president of the International AIDS Society, which is convening the AIDS conference — said the conference also will address criticism that efforts to increase HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment activities have taken away from efforts to build health systems in developing countries. Cahn said some people have claimed that the international community has put “too much money into the AIDS struggle” and is “weakening health care systems.” Cahn said, “African health care systems were not OK before (the AIDS epidemic) and have become better after the opening of clinics,” adding that the accusations are “absolutely not true.”

Cahn added that advocates attending the AIDS conference likely will call for the integration of reproductive health services and treatment for tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections into HIV treatment programs. Advocates have said such efforts would help meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of providing universal access to HIV prevention and treatment by 2010 (VOA News, 7/29).

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~ by h.e.g. on July 31, 2008.

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