XVIII International AIDS Conference – Vienna

June 2, 2010

Between 18 and 25 of July, 2010, the city of Vienna, Austria, will be the stage of The XVIII International AIDS Conference. The event, with the theme “Rights here, right now” will gather activists, policy makers, persons living with HIV/AIDS and other individuals committed to ending the epidemic. Gestos will participate actively in the moment, hosting two important satellite sessions, as follows:

Date Session Organizer

(18h30 – 20h30)

2010 A year not to forget – Political and Economic Challenges for Achieving the UNGASS-AIDS Goals Gestos and Laccaso
18/07 (15h45 – 17h45) Universal Access for Women & Girls –2010 a Year Not to Forget Gestos

OP UNAIDS Forum – Peru

June 1, 2010

Between 14 and June 15 will take place in Lima, Peru, the OP UNAIDS Forum. The main objective is to present the Operational Plan for UNAIDS Action Framework – Addressing women, girls, gender equality and HIV, launched in March 2010 at the 54th Session of the CSW, in New York, for the Peruvian civil society. After the presentation, there will be a reflection process with key actors of civil society on women’s vulnerability to HIV, beyond the identification of strategic actions for greater integration between the country’s response to the epidemic of AIDS and the policies for gender equity and sexual and reproductive health.

In addition, the forum seeks to promote greater integration between the movements of HIV / AIDS and women, by raising awareness about the demands and characteristics of women to HIV / AIDS and the need to establish effective policies to empower them and reduce their vulnerability to the epidemic.

The process of UNGASS Forum in Peru is one of the points that will be presented and discussed. The expectation is to have between 30 and 40 participants. The Movimiento Manuela Ramos is the responsible for the event and will facilitate de process with Gestos.

Gestos holds meeting with legislators and seropositive women from the Northeast of Brazil

June 1, 2010

Gestos – HIV+, Communication and Gender Issues – held on the last day May 19, the Meeting between women and legislators: strengthening the actions to fight the feminization of AIDS in the Northeast of Brazil. The event had the participation of seropositive women from the nine northeastern states, members of the National Network of People Living with HIV/ IDS (RNP +), National Movement of Posithive Citizens (MNCP) and The Network of Young People Living with HIV/ IDS and of legislators from the region linked to the STD /AIDS area , public policies for women and women’s health.

The day was quite busy, with intense discussions within the group of legislators and women. The main result was the construction of a shared agenda between legislators and women to carry out actions in each state. Efforts will focus on workshops in smaller cities to inform about the Plan to Fight the Feminization of AIDS, the development of educational materials and the creation of management committees to monitor these plans.

Meeting – The meeting was part of the project Monitoring UNGASS-AIDS Goals on Sexual and Reproductive Health, funded by the Ford Foundation, which aims to strengthen the performance of seropositive women in their states by political incidence and social control of public policies, to build a map of each state situation  related to services for this public and to discuss the interface between sexual and reproductive rights, violence and AIDS, so that together – government and civil society – are capable of articulating strategies for coping with the feminization of AIDS.

The choice to act in the Northeast of the country is due to the fact that AIDS remains severely impacting the region and, contrary to what occurs in other parts of Brazil, there is no stability, but growth in the number of cases. According to the Brazilian National STD and AIDS Program – 2009, from 1997 to 2007, in the Northeast, the incidence doubled from 5,3 per 100 thousand inhabitants to 10,8 and has increased among the female population, especially the youngest.

Gestos – Since the beginning of its activities in 1993, Gestos – HIV+, Communication and Gender Issues – has been facing the feminization of AIDS developing actions for women in the prevention and care field. In recent years, has promoted meetings, seminars, public policies monitoring and developed research and publications on the subject. Moreover, it has trained leaders of seropositive women, directly contributing to their political formation and performance in areas of social control.

Integration of sexual and Reproductive health and Rights and HIV/AIDS highlighted during the V UNGASS Forum South Africa

June 1, 2010

The V UNGASS Forum South Africa, held on February 3rd and 4th, and organized by MOSAIC and Health Trust System, focused on the linkages between and integration of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and HIV/AIDS at various levels. The event had the participation of over 40 women’s organizations.

One of the main results of the forum was the preparation of a report that was submitted to South Africa National Aids Commission (SANAC) and later was annexed to South Africa’s 2010 UNGASS Report, highlighting the importance of integration between SRHR and HIV/AIDS.

The development of a SRHR policy which integrates HIV&AIDS into SRHR programmes, and conversely, SRHR into HIV&AIDS programmes and the review and update of ARV treatment guidelines to cover relevant SRHR issues beyond ARVs are some recommendations highlighted by the report.

The Forum made also recommendations to address the gaps and challenges of integration efforts in South Africa. At structural level, it recommended the development of a unified M&E framework that is informed by human rights; that takes SRHR and quality of care issues into consideration more effectively; and that allows for collection of disaggregated data on SRHR and HIV/AIDS at national, provincial and local levels.

The document will be used by the Women’s Sector in the next two years to guide its advocacy and service-related programs. And will contribute to a much broader view of treatment of HIV positive women in South Africa.

South Africa accomplishes planned goals

January 15, 2010

The year of 2009 can be considered a key-year to South Africa. The III South Africa UNGASS-AIDS SSR Forum was held in Cape Town, last June and almost all the activities drawn in the advocacy plan were accomplished.  The meeting took place in the house of MOSAIC (a NGO) and had two days of intense discussions about health and sexual and reproductive rights, with the participation of 20 Health, Women, HIV/AIDS and GLB movement organizations.

Promoting the UNGASS-AIDS Declaration of Committment and the SRHR priorities within the national AIDS policies and strategies was done in many opportunities such as at the Reproductive Rights Alliance workshop, Men Engage Conference, Youth conference in Cape Town and Women’s Sector Prevention Summit. During the Summit many crucial issues were discussed such as the lack of access to the female condom, the need for more efficient prevention programmes for girls, attention to prevention activities for pregnant women who have tested negative, to get improved SRH and family planning services for women affected by AIDS, etc. These were a very strategic moment for civil society point out and highlight their main needs and concerns.

South Africa was also successful in communicating with society in general. Advocacy information addressing civil society were produced as part of the advocacy activities, as well as a press statement containing ten priority points.

After a year of hard work though the doubt whether the civil society report was incorporated by UNAIDS remains. The report was submitted after the country due date and even though UNAIDS supported its content and process, the document couldn’t be accepted as a shadow report by South Africa National AIDS Commission.

Last year the UNGASS AIDS Forum was successful when talking to the government Department of Health about the possibility of having civil society included as part of the delegation which will participate in the AIDS High Level Meeting at UN, expected to be held in 2011. That was a very difficult process in 2008 and the SC is looking forward to have it improved for the next UNGASS Review meeting.

In 2010 lobbying and strengthening Women’s Sectors will keep in place.

Girls United Against Violence and AIDS

May 11, 2009

There is a direct relationship between HIV/AIDS and violence affecting all social strata, be it through sexual exploitation or abuse – that many times have roots at home. “It is crucial to teach the girls how to defend themselves and to denounce the violence they are victim of,” says one of the participants of the workshop Girls United Against Violence and AIDS that reaches the counties of Recife and Cabo. The campaign, beyond the workshop, has a blog that is used by them to post their views on cases of violence reported by the media, or just to show their views on ways to comfort victims of peculiarly violent situations for being a girl.

The campaign, launched in 2007, has a pioneer approach when interfacing violence and AIDS. The actions include monitoring the system of the Children and Adolescent Rights Act – ECA –, the care structure for youth victim of violence, while reinforcing the need for preventing violence and the HIV/AIDS with youth victim of abuse and sexual exploitation through a sequence of “dialogue roundtables” on the issue at public schools.

Even though there are positive response, the Campaign identifies many challenges such as the lack of unified database system that would ease the monitoring of violent cases, that are badly monitored for the sheer lack of basic information entry. The health care professional resist to write down the cases in detail. And the worst case scenario, the lack or limited prophylaxis medication for HIV in cases of rape.