Recife holds the VI UNGASS-AIDS Forum of Brazil

June 1, 2010

Between May 20th and 21st, Gestos – HIV+, Communication and Gender Issues in partnership with the Support Group for AIDS Prevention (GAPA / SP) and with the support of the National STD and AIDS Programme of Brazil, the Ford Foundation and the Special Secretary of Woman of Pernambuco state, held in, Recife, the VI National UNGASS/AIDS Forum of Brazil. The central theme was the ‘Interface between policies for sexual and reproductive rights and AIDS”.

The event aimed to define collective actions of monitoring the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS-AIDS) with AIDS, gay, trans and women activists and the National STD/AIDS Programme of Brazil, encouraging greater interface between policies for sexual and reproductive health and AIDS policies in Brazil.

The implementation of specific plans for dealing with the epidemic of AIDS and other STDs among gays, men who have sex with men (MSM) and Transvestites, of the Plan to Fight the Feminization of AIDS and other STDs and of the Health and Prevention Program in Schools was also discussed at the meeting.

Forum – Altogether, 61 people from the five regions of the country, attended the forum. Among the exhibitors was Mariângela Simão, head of the National STD/AIDS and Viral Hepatitis Programme of the Health Ministry, who presented the successes and challenges to be overcome regarding the UNGASS Goals in 2010. She also presented the process of drafting the 2010 Report and highlighted the participation of civil society in the report.

The representative of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in Brazil, Pedro Chequer, also attended the event and made a presentation on Women, HIV/AIDS and the Millennium Goals.The highlight of the presentation was when Chequer spoke about the agenda for the strengthening of actions for women, girls, gender equality and HIV, pointing out the reasons – epidemiological tendency, social vulnerability of women and girls, unmet needs in the reproductive health field and the relation, increasingly evident, between violence against women and HIV / AIDS.

The interface between policies on sexual and reproductive rights and AIDS was the topic addressed by the chairman of Brazilian Association of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transvestites and Trans Population (ABGLT), Beto de Jesus. The issue was highlighted in the Plan to Fight the AIDS Epidemic in Gay, MSM and transvestites majestically by Jesus, who also pointed out the need to work heteronormativity, the fight against homophobia and the recognition of sexual orientation and gender identity as human rights.

The UNGASS and Civil Society was the theme presented by Alessandra Nilo, who highlighted the situation where we should be in 2010 and the challenges for this to be achieved. Besides her, Josineide Meneses, of Gestos, described the situation of the Plans to Fight the Feminization of AIDS in the Northeast of Brazil, which was complemented by José Carlos Veloso, of GAPA-São Paulo, bringing an overview of the three federal plans.

At the end of two days of forum, the participants prepared a political letter with recommendations regarding the MSM and Health and Prevention in Schools Plan, and the Plan to Fight the Feminization of AIDS, which will be socialized in the coming days.

UNGASS / AIDS – In order to monitor the implementation of commitments made by the Brazilian government in 2001 during the Special Session of UN General Assembly on HIV / AIDS – UNGASS – since 2003, a group of Brazilian NGOs, led by Gestos in Pernambuco, and the Support Group for AIDS Prevention of São Paulo – GAPA – SP – has organized UNGASS AIDS forums, where leaders of  AIDS, women and LGBT movements from all over the country gather to evaluate the government response related to the commitments made, identify progresses and gaps and, based on these data, define an agenda of political incidence. In 2007, Gestos extended this initiative to countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.


United Nations General Assembly discusses with civil society the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

June 1, 2010

The Informal Interactive Hearings of the General Assembly with Non-governmental organizations, Civil society organizations and the Private sector is an initiative of the UN General Assembly in order to provide input to the preparatory process for the ‘MDG summit’ (High-level Plenary Meeting) which will happen next September (20-22). The Hearings will take place at United Nations Headquarters in New York on June 14th and 15th.

The objective of the MDG Summit is to discuss how to accelerate progress towards all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, taking into account the progress made towards the internationally agreed development goals (A/RES/64/184). The summit is expected to undertake a comprehensive review of successes, best practices and lessons learned, obstacles and gaps, challenges and opportunities, leading to concrete strategies for action.


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.


Viena holds the XVIII International AIDS Conference in 2010

January 15, 2010

From 18 to 23 July 2010, the XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010), an event organized by the International AIDS Society (IAS), will be held in Austria. Over 25.000 people working in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers and people living with HIV are expected.

The event will be an opportunity to highlight the importance of continued HIV investments to broader health and development goals and the critical connection between human rights and HIV. And it is also a great opportunity for us to present the work related UNGASS-AIDS and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of women.

YOUR PARTICIPATION WILL BE KEY

Attention with the following dates.

• Standard fee deadline is 24 February

• Apply for a scholarship – (December 8, 2009 – February 10, 2010)

• Submit an abstract (November 1, 2009 – February 10, 2010) or request abstract assistance –  (until February 3, 2010)

•  Submit skills building workshop proposals, sessions for the Global Village and Youth Programmes (December 1, 2009 – February 10, 2010)

•  Register to volunteer – April 1, 2010

•  Apply for exhibition space – (December 1, 2009 – May 31, 2010)

• Host a satellite meeting – (December 1, 2009 – March 31, 2010)

• Sign-up for monthly e-mail updates at http://www.aids2010.org using the “Add me to the mailing list” button.

For further information about the conference and how to participate click http://www.aids2010.org/


Brazil showed great progress on the debate about women’s SRH&R, AIDS and violence

January 15, 2010

The year of 2009 was the time for two states (Paraíba and Acre) which had never organized a Forum before to hold their I UNGASS-AIDS SSR Foruns. The II Forum of the North Region and the IV of Maranhão state were also held and all of them ended with important outcomes regarding the monitoring of AIDS public policies, including a monitoring plan and goals set up for 2009-2010.

The participation of civil society in the UNGASS working group, coordinated by the STD, AIDS and Viral Hepatitis National Program and created for formalize the SC participation within the process of creating the National UNGASS report, was more productive in 2009. Thirty seven organizations from different parts of the country contributed with information to the Part B of the Joint National Policies Indicator that were later consolidated and incorporated in the Country Report – last time only 4 replied the questionnaire sent by the government.

An outstanding initiative of civil society was a capacity building workshop for women of all northeastern states about sexual and reproductive rights, AIDS and violence, coordinated by Gestos, in September. Seropositive women from women rights groups and networks[1], including the Youngsters living with HIV and AIDS Network held intensive discussions for four days which, according to them, have widely contributed to their political strengthening to act on instances of social control. The objective was to promote sexual and reproductive rights as a starting point of public policies on fighting the feminization of AIDS and to set an advocacy agenda for 2010.
“Since I got divorced and found out I was HIV positive I see I can take care of me and my life. I assume that and I don’t need to hide myself, when I assume I am a woman who lives with HIV/AIDS (…) But today I understand that in order to be a leader it is not necessary to be in official space, I can do my work and change people’s conditions”, said one of the workshop’s participants.

A second workshop, this time for the policy makers of health and women sectors, was held two months later. Representatives of all nine states were together for two days to discuss prevention and women’s assistance policy and also the lack of policies able to relate violence and AIDS. They also acknowledged the seropositve women’s activity plan and most important of all they have committed to support it.

Very important this past year was also the invitation by UNAIDS to Gestos to take part in the Latin America Workshop on UNGASS-AIDS 2010, which took place in Chile, last March . The objectives were to consolidate the process of preparation of the country reports for UNGASS 2010, to analyze the Declaration of Commitment indicators, signed by the countries in 2001, and to know the computerized tools for releasing the 2010 national reports.

During the workshop Gestos had the opportunity to present the experience of the project Monitoring of UNGASS-AIDS goals on Sexual and Reproductive Health. According to the activist Jair Brandão, who was representing the institution at the event, “the participation of Gestos was very nice, because the process of monitoring the UNGASS-AIDS goals by the civil society is still one of the best catalyzers to maintain and progress the monitoring and the evaluation at a national level.” Brazil has an amazing experience on that.


[1] Women living with HIV from RNP+ (National Network of PLWA), MNCP (National Movement of Positive Women Citizens),