May 22, 2013
AIDS Conference Excludes Many of Those Most Affected
Posted on Jul 25, 2012
The International AIDS Conference returned to the United States this week after a 22-year hiatus, thanks in part to President Obama’s lifting of a 1987 ban on entry into the country by people with HIV or AIDS. But sex workers and drug users, two groups most affected by the epidemic, remain shut out.
Melissa Gira Grant on The Nation’s website points out the contradiction in holding a meeting attended by 20,000 people aimed at addressing an international health crisis while excluding those most impacted.
Among those in attendance are drug manufacturers, doctors, rich philanthropists and high-level officials. The emphasis on them will make “all the talk of new drugs, new funding and new policy ... disconnected from the experience of those living with HIV/AIDS,” Grant writes.
The criminalization of those who sell sex and use drugs, behavior that is often undertaken in response to a deteriorating society, invites another paradox. Discussions about the disease at the highest levels of society among people who are least likely to be affected by it is one thing. Addressing the underlying, economically shaped social ills that perpetuate the epidemic with policies aimed at ameliorating those circumstances is quite another.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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