Media Outlets Profile Attendees at HIV/AIDS Conferences in Mexico City
Inter Press Service reports that about 350 delegates from HIV advocacy organizations gathered in the Mexican capital for a two-day conference that opened Thursday. The conference, organized by the group International People Living With HIV, is titled "Living 2008: The Positive Leadership Summit."
According to Inter Press Service, People Living With HIV launched in 1983 at a conference in Denver, during which a group of advocates for the first time publicly expressed the needs of HIV-positive people and voiced the idea that "personal experiences should help shape the design of policies." The group took on an international dimension in 1994, when 42 countries signed the Paris Declaration, also known as the Declaration of Greater Involvement of People Living With HIV/AIDS.
Although advocates have successfully increased their "influence and visibility" in the past 10 years, HIV-positive people "continue to face discrimination, isolation and criminalization for HIV transmission," Inter Press Service reports. The conference aimed to address various issues, such as the criminalization of HIV transmission, HIV prevention, support for HIV-positive people, universal access to treatment, and sexual and reproductive rights (Godoy, Inter Press Service, 7/31).
In addition, thousands of advocates marched through Mexico City on Saturday to protest discrimination against HIV-positive people ahead of the XVII International AIDS Conference, which opened Sunday, AFP/Google.com reports. According to AFP/Google.com, several first ladies from Latin America and Caribbean countries met Saturday to discuss the HIV/AIDS epidemic among women (AFP/Google.com, 8/2).
Commercial Sex Workers
Reuters on Sunday profiled commercial sex workers who say they intend to protest the XVII International AIDS Conference because they cannot afford the conference's registration fees. Elma Delea, an advocate and transsexual sex worker near Mexico City, said Mexican health officials have told her and other advocates they did not have enough money for "everyone who wanted scholarships" to attend the conference. Elvira Madrid, an advocate working for the rights of sex workers in Mexico City, said, "The conference is a place to exchange opinion, but now only those in power have a say."
Commercial sex work is illegal in Mexico but is "widely tolerated," Reuters reports. Delea said it is important for society to acknowledge sex workers. Police officers in Mexico often detain sex workers when they are found with condoms, which makes it more difficult to practice safer sex, Delea said. Delea added that fellow protesters want to teach women how to protect themselves when customers refuse to use condoms (Tan, Reuters, 8/3).
Singer-Songwriter Annie Lennox
According to the AP/Google.com, singer-songwriter Annie Lennox also will attend the XVII International AIDS Conference as an ambassador for Oxfam. Lennox said complacency threatens to slow the fight against HIV/AIDS and is urging musicians, filmmakers and women to continue to promote the issue (AP/Google.com, 8/2). She added, "This dialogue must not go off the table" (AP/Google.com, 8/3).
Lennox also has launched a campaign called "Sing," which includes a song she recorded with 23 female singers to raise money for HIV/AIDS. She also is campaigning on behalf of South African women and children living with HIV/AIDS (AP/Google.com, 8/2).
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