News / Africa

    Melbourne Declaration Released

    The International AIDS Conference is the world's largest HIV related gathering. It's held every two years. In 2016, the event returns to Durban, South Africa, where it was held in 2000.
    The International AIDS Conference is the world's largest HIV related gathering. It's held every two years. In 2016, the event returns to Durban, South Africa, where it was held in 2000.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Joe DeCapua
    The world’s largest gathering on HIV/AIDS will be held in July in Melbourne, Australia. The theme of the 20th International AIDS Conference – also known as AIDS 2014 – is Nobody Left Behind. Organizers have issued the Melbourne Declaration.
     
    Listen to De Capua report on Melbourne Declaration
    Listen to De Capua report on Melbourne Declarationi
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    Since the AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa, in 2000, conference organizers have released declarations several months prior to the event.
     
    Chris Beyrer, professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and president-elect of the International AIDS Society, said there are several reasons why declarations are issued.
     
    “Certainly, the first is, as in the case with the Durban Declaration, that there are often compelling issues facing the field and facing everyone living with HIV and people working on HIV, that really demand international attention. So the conference provides a platform, a spotlight on the global epidemic. And so we use the conference declarations to really highlight those issues,” he said.
     
     
    The Melbourne Declaration affirms that “non-discrimination is fundamental to an evidence-based, rights-based and gender transformative response to HIV and effective public health programs.”
     
    Beyrer sais, “There has been a wave of new anti-gay, discriminatory laws and policies in a number of countries -- the recent laws in Russia --the new laws that were passed in Nigeria in 2013 and in Uganda just recently – which really are a threat to access to care for people living with HIV and for sexual and gender minorities more broadly.”
     
    AIDS 2014 organizers said such laws exist in over 80 countries.
     
    “The motivation for this current declaration is really to say the HIV response has always been about universal access – about non-discrimination and about working with affected people and communities. That’s always been who we are, and that’s why we’ve had the successes that we’ve had. And so, we’re really trying to use the conference to highlight that we see these laws as really a dangerous trend in the wrong direction,” said Beyrer.
     
    Many of the laws against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders have their roots in colonialism. But Beyrer said the new law in Nigeria takes discrimination further.
     
    “It was not illegal, for example, to organize meetings, to have discussions, to do outreach for folks at risk, for gay and other men who have sex with men. The new law criminalizes all those behaviors. So, for example, [it] makes it illegal to organize a public health meeting to discuss these issues. It makes it illegal to do outreach and provide services.”
     
    The effect, he said, is to quickly cut off access to life-saving HIV services.
    “Untreated HIV is still fatal. So when you talk about reducing people’s access to care, this is not trivial. This is a life or death matter,” he said.
     
    While the U.S. Great Britain and others have moved toward expanding gays rights, including same sex marriage, some former British colonies are going in the opposite direction. Some of the anti-gay laws have the support of American evangelical groups.
     
    One minister, Scott Lively, has been active in Uganda and Russia, for example. He’s currently being sued in Massachusetts by an American group representing sexual minorities in Uganda. The suit accuses Lively of crimes against humanity. Lively’s attorney said his client’s preaching against homosexuality is protected by the U.S. Constitution.
     
    In 2013, The U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional what’s known as the Anti-Prostitution Pledge as it relates to U.S. NGOs. It required that NGOs receiving federal funds to combat HIV and trafficking adopt a policy opposing prostitution and sex trafficking. However, the Supreme Court said it violated the First Amendment right of free speech. But, the ruling did not apply to foreign NGOs receiving such funds.
     
    The International AIDS Society President-Elect said many who sell sex do so consensually and consider it their everyday job. They oppose the Anti-Prostitution Pledge. Professor Beyrer said the language surrounding the issue has caused problems.
     
    “We have had some conflation, I think, in language and terminology around, for example, trafficking of persons and sexual exploitation with sex work that, I think, broadly speaking has not been helpful in terms of trying to provide services to people and really understand who is a coerced person who really needs protection? And who is a consenting a consenting adult, who is choosing to sell sex?”
     
    He added that when sexworkers are organized and managers of commercial sex they can actually help control the spread of HIV.
     
    “They do a very good job of promoting condom use -- of STD care and treatment access. And when they’re organized this goes rather well. When you talk to the communities about what it is that they want, they want sex work to be understood as work. They want access to care and services. They want to be able to be organized and they of course want protection from violence, which is a major issue,” he said.
     
    Instead, he said, crackdowns and exploitation drive sexwork underground where protection against HIV is lacking. There’s no indication the Anti-Prostitution Pledge will be repealed by the U.S.
     
    In 2016, the International AIDS Conference returns to Durban, South Africa, where it was last held in 2000. It was the first time the meeting was held in a developing country and the last time it was in Africa. At the time, organizers issued the Durban Declaration, which said HIV caused AIDS. It was aimed at then South African President Thabo Mbeki, who had refused to accept that a virus was the cause of the epidemic.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    From fast-food restaurants to pizza delivery, here's what the history of take-out food tells us about changes in American society

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora