Regional UNGASS Workshop in Chile Promoted by UNAIDS

September 3, 2009

Between September 8th and 11th, UNAIDS gathers, in Chile, the civil society and the governments of Latin American and the Caribbean for the UNGASS Regional Workshop. The aim is to consolidate the process of elaboration of the countries reports to be sent up to March 31st, 2010. Besides that, the meeting will be an opportunity to analyze key indicators within the framework of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV in the UNGASS, based on the guidelines for 2010 report. Gestos, invited by UNAIDS, will be represented by the activist Jair Brandão, who will be presenting the experience of SC in monitoring UNGASS in Brazil and Gestos’s experience internationally.


ASIA discusses the future of UNGASS

September 3, 2009

The 9th ICAAP (9th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific) was held in Bali, Indonesia on August, 9th – 13th, 2009.  Under the theme “Empowering people, strengthening networks”, the event was officially opened by The President of the Republic of Indonesia, H.E. Hj. Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, followed by the speech of the UNAIDS Executive Director, Mr. Michel Sidibé whose speech called for the establishment of enabling environments and supportive social norms necessary to deliver a future generation free of HIV.

 The event, which takes places every two years, was also an opportunity for the UNGASS Forum and Jaringan Orang Terinfeksi HIV Indonesia (JOTHI) to do some campaign to promote UNGASS-AIDS and build stronger partnership in Asia and the Pacific due to its monitoring process.  For that, in the first three days, it was distributed an UNGASS-AIDS Forum flyer to people attending the Community Forum who didn’t acknowledged at all – not even those who are people living with HIV and other key affected population – what is the UNGASS Forum and how can it affect AIDS response in the country.

 UNGASS – During meeting, World AIDS Campaign, Gestos – Ford Foundation and UNAIDS supported a satellite session that aimed to initiate discussion at the country and regional level regarding the UNGASS monitoring process and civil society involvement. The panelist were UNGASS Community Forum from Thailand and Indonesia, representative from UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and Pacific (RST/AP), representative from International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) and representative from Asia Pacific Coalition on AIDS Service Organization (APCASO).

Two of the most discussed topics in the session were: what will happen after the 2010, as it is the last “time target” mentioned in the UNGASS doc; and if UNGASS reporting process will be repositioned within MDG report process or if it will be recommitted.

Executive Summary

Cairo+15: still in debt to women

September 3, 2009

By Télia Negrão

It’s currently going on a world wide process aiming to evaluate the implementation of the Cairo Program of Action after 15 years of its approval by the United Nations, in 1994, in Cairo. The ICPD/1994, as it’s known, has brought up to the debate about demography and health a new vision which condemns the birth control policies, assumes the reproductive rights based on autonomy and informed decision, and recognizes the sexual and reproductive rights as an essential aspect to people’s lives.

Actually, the Cairo Conference has established a new paradigm of economical development and human rights. However, the 15 years of its implementation were impacted by eight years of Bush’s conservative management and its fundamentalist policy known as ABC (abstinence, be faithful, condom). It’s clear that the conservative offensive of the Vatican and other religions have been interfering in the creation of the laws and the public policies all around the world.

The concrete result of this position was the reduction of resources to governmental programs that are strategic in the area of HIV/AIDS prevention, public policies to prevent non desired or planned pregnancy, unsafe abortions, sexual violence, among others, as well as the decrease of the support to the civil society actions in this field. These facts, added to the reforms in the health sector and the sequence of international economic crisis, keeps Cairo as an agenda indebted to women who live with high mother mortality rates, feminization of HIV and AIDS, high violence rates and violations to the human rights on health.

It’s widely known the role the feminist and women movement played in the Cairo Conference/94 and in the following events (Cairo+5 and Cairo+10) as those movements have demonstrated the relation of the issues discussed to the human rights. As protagonists of this process, women gave concrete and real examples of the policies impact on the women lives. It’s due to this movement that the concept of reproductive rights, even tough the sexual rights, hasn’t been recognized neither by the ICPD/94, nor by its following events.

Last March, the meeting at the UN to evaluate Cairo regarding the Millennium Goals has once more deleted the word “sexual rights” and maintained the old concept of sexual health.

In order to strength the civil society strategies, it is being held in September, in Berlin, a World Forum of NGOs in the field of the Cairo agenda. Before that, in August, a preparatory regional meeting took place in Panama. If there is something new in the agenda that is the alliance between the feminist movement and the women of networks, and articulations linked to Cairo – indigenous women, afro descendents, seropositive women, sexual workers, youngsters, elderly, that come together in an effort to assure the integral implementation of the Cairo Platform. It’s an alliance that strengths the demands of health and of sexual and reproductive rights anchored in the respect of diversity and that has in common the commitment to the change of the society paradigms which don’t accept any other justification for not implementing public policies and the keeping on with the human rights violations. 


Activists from all over the world gather in Berlin to discuss Cairo+15

September 3, 2009

Berlin is the destination of many NGO between 2nd and 5th of September. LACCASO Regional Coordinator, participated, together with 300 other NGOs in the meeting Global Partners in Action: NGO Forum on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Development ( The event is part of the discussions about the implementation of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Program of Action, by its 15th anniversary, a process known as Cairo+15, city where the ICPD took place in 1994.

 Two documents will be produced by the end of the conference. The first is a Call to Action to be delivered to the upcoming Parliamentarians conference in Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia. The second one is “How To” for advocacy and programmatic implementation of the Plan of Action directed toward NGOs. The emphasis will be on the policies priorities of the Call of Action.

Strategic planning and advocacy design at ITPC meeting

September 3, 2009

The second Integration Meeting of the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) took place in Amsterdam, between 26th and 29th of August, as a further step towards the reorganization of the group which advocates for universal access to HIV and AIDS treatment all over the world. The objectives of the meeting were: to discuss the work that is being done and the challenges of integrations, to amplify the discussion at the global level, and strengthening local capacity on advocacy. The activities included the review of the current status and the strategic planning, communication strategies, advocacy, finances, fund raising, governance and the relations between several internal structures, among other issues. Alesandra Nilo, Gestos Coordinator, participated as a member of the Ad hoc Steering Committee Group.

HIV Prevention Summit – South Africa

September 3, 2009

By Marieta de Vos, Executive Director of Mosaic Training, Service & Healing Centre for Women

On August 20-21 2009 an HIV Prevention Summit was conducted by the Women’s Sector of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC). Many interesting presentations and discussions took place over the two days. Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe addressed the Summit and expressed Government’s commitment to women’s issues within the fight against HIV and AIDS. At the end of the Summit the UNGASS Forum’s work was acknowledged and all the participating organisations were urged to become involved in the process. The results of the summit will also be included in the updated South African report. The report of the summit has not been published yet but the following issues came out very strongly from the Women’s Sector:

–          Access to the female condom is still very limited and Government should be lobbied to open up the tender processes and procurement of this only female initiated method of protection. It has been shown as acceptable to significant numbers of women in rural and urban areas of SA. We should have positive political outspoken commitment for female condoms, strong demands from women’s organisations, diverse interventions for distribution, training of outreach workers, effective logistics and M&E.

–          Although there are prevention programmes for girls much more needed to be done in SA.

–          In terms of vertical transmission the health of the mother is extremely important and other services such as pap smears should be available

–          The Accelerated PMTCT Programme can be used to improve maternal health – actions to improve early ante-natal clinic booking rates are essential and making sure that positive mothers get HAART. The burden of disease in SA is massive, every year 300,000+ HIV positive pregnant women are coming through clinics.

–          We also need to focus prevention activities on pregnant women who have tested negative.

–          Unplanned pregnancies are huge in SA, we have to get improved SH&RH and family planning services. SA’s contraceptive policy should be overhauled, there are basically two methods that are available and this is not acceptable.

–          There are still many women that are not reached: those that do not access clinics at all before the birth, those that refuse VCT (Voluntary Counseling and Testing), those that receive a wrong reading – we have to look at the full picture.

–          When health workers do not receive their stipends from the Dept of Health there is a significant drop in pregnant women taking VCT , it is very important to ensure continuation of payment for health workers

–          A draft prevention strategy is being compiled by SANAC’s Prevention Technical Task Team based on UNAIDS’ “Know your epidemic, Know your disease” approach, will be ready for discussion in November

–          The Health Department said that the health system will have to be redesigned and that we will have to think beyond the NSP because many of its 2011 targets will not be reached. Also that primary health care should be improved.

–          In terms of rape and sexual assault – police services are not trained well enough on the Sexual Offences Act, there are still many problems. Training on administering PEP (Post Exposure Profilaxis) and follow-up of clients is essential. It is uncertain whether the designated facilities for PEP are working effectively, we need to look at indicators for measurement.

–          Microbicide and PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) trials are going on in SA. There is a need for more collaboration between these studies and the Women’s Sector especially with regard to preparation and implementation of trials.


September 3, 2009
UNGASS-AIDS Forum group in Belize City.

UNGASS-AIDS Forum group in Belize City.

Between August 31st and September 1st the III UNGASS Forum Belize took place in the Cahal Pech Room of the Radisson Fort George Hotel, in Belize City. The forum was coordinated by Alliance Against AIDS (AAA) in partnership with Gestos, that coordinates an international advocacy push on women’s sexual health and reproductive health (SH&RH). The event had the participation of leading representatives of Belize’s health social movement, including NGOs, networks and governmental agencies that dialogued on the pressing issues of HIV/AIDS and SH&RH.

Soon we will share more information about the results.