Lima, Peru – The openning of the V Latin American and Caribbean Forum on HIV/AIDS and STD (November 21 to 23) was anything but ordinary. Although the organization of the Forum put all the effort for a smooth ceremony filled with cultural presentation, it was interrupted by a protest of fifteen mothers who had their children infected by unsafe blood transfusion at a public hospital. The police tried and contained the group outside the venue, but, at arrival, international women activists learned about the situation and started to help with the protest, asking for the women to enter the venue and present the issue to all, including the Minister of Health of Peru, Mr. Óscar Ugarte.
After a bit of confusion, because the security did not want to attend the activists pledge, one mother of the infected children was allowed to come to the stage and present the protest, which she did in a very polite and orderly fashion. Ms. Alejandra Guevara asked the government of Peru to drop the attempt to appeal a court decision that granted the families a reparation sum from the state. The Minister listened to the pledge and, besides stating that a the court decision shall be respected, commited to work towards implementing the results of the three day Forum.
“If nothing else comes out of the Forum, at least civil society has shown strength to establish its voice and help these women,” said Ms. Alessandra Nilo, of Gestos, one of the activists who started the pledge to let the voices of the mothers be heard by the international audience.