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23/07/2012 - Other news

Sex workers and drug users claiming participation in AIDS2012

A group of sex workers and drug users stopped the opening session for the media in the context of the opening of the XIX International AIDS Conference. By: Diego Leonardo Mora Tags: AIDS2012, International AIDS Conference 2012, Discrimination, Advocacy, Participation, sex work, drug users.

Kentaro Kaneko, Cyd Nova and Alan Guttirrez are three young men from California that took their suitcases and came to Washington with a desire: to make known their opinions and their voice against the low participation of sex workers and drug users in the XIX International AIDS Conference.

They are not great scientists nor doctors, and they do not have biomedical knowledge, but they will defend their work as no one does: "being a sex worker is not easy," they argued.

The AIDS Conference is a particular space to influence on national and international public policies that today are against this population, so they consider most important that the voice of sex workers must be for taking care of their own good, working in the creation and implementation of policies to have a positive effect.
Barriers in access to visas for sex workers and drug users prevent them to have their own and strong voice in the Conference, that’s why parallel events were organized like the Sex Workers’ Freedom Festival in Calcutta - India, which binds to the document "A Call to change U.S. Policy on Sex work and HIV", call demanding the derogation of policies that avoid entry into the country of sex workers, the inclusion of labor rights for immigrants as part of a comprehensive immigration reform, redress for violation of human rights, the reorientation of anti-trafficking campaigns to be in line with the standards set by the United Nations and the integration of sex workers in this process. Full text at this link.

They were part of the group that protested for the lack of participation of populations mentioned in the opening ceremony for media, immediately before the main opening ceremony of the conference attended by members of the U.S. government, as well as journalists worldwide. Kaneko told that they entered the auditorium as if to hear the meeting and at a time, while the speakers gave their speeches, a group of people stood with cartels reading: "No Drug Users? No Sex Workers? No International AIDS Conference" while shouting:
"Do nothing about us without us".

The audience’s reaction was total silence while journalists documenting the fact. They say that at no time prevented them from continuing with their claims and also received approval from one of the speakers of the session, Barbara Lee, representative for California’s 9th Congressional District, dedicated to social and economic justice, international peace, and civil and human rights. Lee also was part of the creation of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, and the position of Special Advisor for Orphans and Vulnerable Children.

Guttirrez invited people to be linked up with the "We Can End AIDS" movement for economic justice and human rights, to be held next Tuesday at noon, saying there is science, treatment and resources to end the AIDS epidemic, but there is no political will.

Source: Corresponsales Clave