Posted by: drollason | 08/09/2009

Many Voices Unite at Asia AIDS Conference

GHC Legislative and Outreach Coordinator Duncan Rollason will be blogging all week from the 9th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) in Bali, Indonesia. Here is his first report:

BALI, Indonesia — After months of anticipation and more than 36 hours of travel, I am here with almost 4,000 others for the 9th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP). This year’s congress, “Empowering People, Strengthening Networks,” promises to give participants the opportunity to make stronger commitments to the fight against HIV/AIDS based on the most recent best practices, scientific evidence and community voices.

In the three days leading up to the congress, community fora have convened to address specific concerns of various communities (people living with HIV, youth, faith, women, men who have sex with men, sex workers, injecting drug users and migrant workers) and have included plenary presentations, breakout groups, discussions and more. In the culmination of the three-day forum, groups came together Sunday morning for a closing plenary session to consolidate the results of their meetings and prepare the community statement for reading at Sunday evening’s opening ceremony.

Visit the Seven Sisters website (www.7sisters.org) to view each group’s recommendations and the full community statement which is composed of recommendations from the key affected populations and forms an integral part of coordinated programming and advocacy efforts for the next year. However, many have voiced their concern that action has not been taken on previous ICAAP community statements because the accountability does not exist for leaders to do so.

This year, Indonesitan President Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono officially opened the congress in spectacular fashion at Lotus Pond. Following the reading of the community statement, the president reaffirmed his commitment to many of the topics mentioned in the community statement; universal access, anti-stigma and discrimination policy and collaborative efforts with civil society to fight HIV/AIDS.

Statements from UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe (who was unable to attend) and Global Fund Executive Director Michel Kazatchkine also promised to address many of the issues that the community pointed out. Only time will tell if this year will be different and action will be taken on the 2009 community statement. But rest assured that the community is here and  prepared to vocalize their thoughts and concerns during what is going to be an excellent congress. I’ll keep you updated with more information about the plenary sessions, symposia, abstracts, workshops and more in the coming days.

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