The Academy Awards Of AIDS
August 14, 2006 - 9:10am ET
The world of HIV/AIDS—some call it a movement, some call it a turning point in global history and others simply call it a business. It is all of that and more, and this week these different viewpoints will collide as 25,000 people meet in Toronto for the 16th International AIDS Conference. Who are these people? They are activists, researchers, policy-makers, doctors, foundations, non-profits, community-based organizations, corporations, youth and people living with HIV. The world of HIV/AIDS is truly its own world. We speak in our own language. Our celebrities are people like Paul Farmer, Bill Gates and Zackie Achmat. And this week in Toronto is the Academy Awards of the AIDS world. Except there are no awards this year; 25 years into the AIDS pandemic and the global community is still is faced with basic issues of denial, stigma and discrimination.
I’ve been an AIDS activist for 10 years, since I became a high school peer educator for the American Red Cross. Little did I know then that an after-school activity would shape the rest of my life. Now I'm the director of international policy for an organization called Advocates for Youth in Washington, D.C. Advocates for Youth is an international nonprofit dedicated to creating programs and advocating for policies that help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. Our policy work focuses on exposing examples of ideology trumping science in reproductive health and HIV/AIDS policy, leading us to closely monitor the exportation of abstinence-only programs for young people in the U.S. government’s global AIDS initiative. This multi-billion dollar initiative is known as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
PEPFAR’s ideological prevention strategy is under the microscope by the global community this week. Researchers are investigating whether young people understand abstinence-until-marriage messages, foreign governments are hosting discussions on the role of ideology in HIV prevention programming with an eye to U.S. policy and activists and people like Congresswoman Barbara Lee are calling PEPFAR’s policies into question. This week, I’ll be closely monitoring the role of the U.S. government at the conference along with other critical issues before the AIDS community giving you a glimpse into the world of AIDS and the life of an activist.
Help us spread the word about these important stories...
Email to a friend
Views expressed on this page are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Campaign for America's Future or Institute for America's Future