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Global Village at the AIDS Conference - a World in Miniature

One of the main attractions at this week's International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada is the Global Village. It is more than 7,000 square meters of shops, activist booths and community programs from around the world. They all share a concern about the fight against HIV/AIDS and offer different kinds of solutions. Melinda Smith narrates this report.

Welcome to the Global Village at the International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada. Here you can find organizations and people from around the world. They all share the same goal -- to fight HIV/AIDS. But each one of them does it in a different way.

Monks advocate a spiritual life as the best protection against HIV/AIDS. They distribute wrist bracelets and good wishes for peace and happiness.

"You see, people when they come to the monks in the monastery, they want some spiritual gaining [growth]," said one monk.

A few meters away, a group from Toronto advocates the safe use of illegal drugs. They say using clean paraphernalia and not sharing it can dramatically reduce HIV infection among drug users.

Just a bit farther in the village we found a new product being used in Africa where the percentage of women infected with HIV is growing rapidly. It is the re-usable female condom, with panties included. The World Health Organization says female condoms are becoming widely available, and are one way for women to have more control over their own bodies.

Men are encouraged to use a condom, too. The World Health Organization says condoms are currently the most effective method to reduce the risk of HIV during sex.

The Condom Project, one of the most popular stands in the village, works to increase the use of condoms.

"And the condom project works in countries in Africa, Thailand and India to help introduce the condom to young people -- to de-stigmatize it and we do it through a workshop like this,” said one representative demonstrating their solutions, “where you make condom pins, that look like this, and you can see the condom underneath."

The condoms help prevent the spread of AIDS. About a thousand of them have been given away each day.

Many women's organizations are represented in the global village. One African group sells locally-made products to raise funds to fight HIV/AIDS. "Made by all the orphans we support and staff made by grandmas that are taking care of orphans in our organization," said the saleswoman.

The Global Village has been a busy place, filled with people from many different cultures and political beliefs. Yet all are working toward the same goal: to put a stop to HIV and AIDS.