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AIDS: Diaspora


The international AIDS Conference is underway this week in Toronto, Canada, and VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua is providing daily coverage. We’re also devoting our special weekly series to the AIDS conference.

Among those taking part is a Canadian group, the African and Caribbean Council on HIV/AIDS in Ontario (ACCHO). The 21-member organization stresses cultural sensitivity. At this week’s conference it’s presenting what it calls the African/Black Diaspora Stream, a weeklong series of sessions on the high rates of HIV/AIDS among blacks living in the West.

The co-chair of ACCHO is Esther Tharao. VOA English to Africa Service reporter Cole Mallard reached her in Toronto and asked her their plans for the conference.

She said the "first activity is a symposium addressing the hidden epidemic within the western world, which is found in black communities…. We’re looking at Europe and North America.”

She said a session on women will examine the moral strategies and the challenges of managing HIV/AIDS among black women living in the Diaspora. Tharao said ACCHO will deal with the issue of sexuality between men who have sex with men and women who have sex with women. She said another session will be on HIV/AIDS and black youth living in the Diaspora. Tharao said they will use theater and entertainment as a means of getting information out to young people. She said they also plan a networking session on how all concerned can stay linked over AIDS issues concerning the Diaspora. Tharao said ACCHO plans to present research from developed countries and will highlight strategies that can be used in dealing with the struggles of blacks from the Diaspora living in the west. She says ACCHO hopes its efforts at this conference will “provide a model on which we can actually build for the future so that in the next conference, [which will be] held in Mexico, we won’t be starting from scratch; we will have something on which to springboard our activities.”

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