Our Executive Secretary, Elena Reynaga, was interviewed by “Corresponsales Clave” to give her opinion regarding the rejection sex workers women had, along with other civil society groups, to share their work at the International Conference on AIDS. We share the full story.
The Global Forum on Men Who Have Sex with Men and HIV (MSMGF) has revealed a phenomenon that is an open secret: the high rejection rate of papers on topics and programs for gay and men who have sex with men for the International Conference on AIDS.
With just weeks to make public the result of the review of the papers for this conference, there is clear evidence that very few papers have been approved in these areas. The team of Corresponsales Clave was able to confirm with the Latin American networks of Trans and Sex Workers Women that the same has happened with their papers.
The MSMGF said in a statement: “As in previous years, a number of high quality papers on MSM and Trans have been rejected by the Conference. Of the few authors whose works have been accepted far fewer received grants for presentation”. He added: “In the past two years have seen great progress in programs and research on these populations and a small part of this work will be included in the conference program».
The Forum on MSM and HIV has decided, therefore, collect these papers in a publication that will be presented prior to the opening of the Washington Conference. To those authors or organizations whose papers have been rejected, or accepted but rejected grant application, the MSMGF invites them to send them before May 4 using this link
It is worth mentioning that you must follow the same guidelines that for the conference (we recommend using the guidelines included in this link).
We must celebrate the innovative initiative of the Forum to overcome this situation, however it is appropriate to pause a moment to analyze what is happening with the participation of people, programs, research and organizations dedicated to the populations with more risk of contracting HIV. A similar complaint by the Network of Projects on Sex Work was to organize a parallel event to Washington in India.
Gays, MSM, transgender sex workers and drug users are falling from the agenda of the International AIDS Society and their conferences? Perhaps the answer must provide those responsible, but there is empirical evidence to confirm this trend.
What is happening? Some sources close to the International AIDS Society have reported “off the record” that there is a high incidence of a “hard line”. Read this as “to emphasize the basic sciences and medical sciences over other disciplines”. Personally, in opportunity to participate in meetings and committees of previous editions of the conference, I witnessed the complaints and demands of some professional and scientific conferences to be done «more scientific». This is consistent with a central aspect of the conference: funding”.
The International Conference on AIDS could not exist without funding from international pharmaceutical companies. Contributions from multilateral and bilateral programs or agencies are marginal next to the millions invested by the laboratories. In a context where, in addition, there are far fewer resources for AIDS and for their events, there is strong competition of scientific conferences, in particular the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) and the European Congress of Immunology. And not to be less, the IAS competes with itself, organizing a year before the International Conference on Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, whose last edition took place last year in the city of Rome.
It is not news that international conferences are big business, generously watered by the pharmaceutical industry as protocols, research and publication of test results and studies of their products. And is a good opportunity to “take a walk” and see the world (some of) the dedicated health professionals who ensure our viral loads and CD4. What are becoming increasingly apparent are the irretrievable loss of legitimacy and any remote possibility of accountability by the International AIDS Society, scientific organization that always prided to be composed of different sectors and organize events in a relatively participatory multidisciplinary and democratic way. Thus, this international society returns to its «conservative canal» of being a professional association representing the medical and scientific corporation. Hopefully, after this sincerity, the few resources from public and multilateral sectors do not remain committed to these organizers.
“We have heard that none of the papers submitted by the organizations of sex workers women in our region have been accepted. We do not know how many sex workers women in Latin America come to Washington. It is a major setback. In 2008 we had hundreds of sex workers women worldwide at the conference, a plenary session of sex work, workshops and spaces in the Global Village. All that is missing and it is a shame”, said Elena Reynaga, RedTraSex Executive Secretary.
Spaces are lost and, indeed, retraced the history of the epidemic. A few years after the first AIDS cases there was a universal consensus that the only possible response was multispectral: science and society, governments and civil society, scientists and «patients», a notion that seems to be falling into oblivion in some heads and in the policies of their organizations. We do not know how much we can retrace; we just know that we cannot win this war alone.
If you want to know the names of people in the scientific world, civil society and agencies that participate in each of the committees of the Washington Conference, visit this link.. Perhaps among those names you can find some answers. If you want to participate and express yourself, leave your comment below.