International Aids Conference in DC is met with protests & international criticism
July 24, 2012
Washington welcomed the International AIDS Conference back to the United States this Sunday, after a twenty-two-year absence due to US policy that barred people living with HIV from entering the country. As most delegates began to queue for the IAC’s opening session, a group of about twenty young women, trans people and men successfully interrupted the opening press conference, wearing green Statue of Liberty crowns, sounding vuvuzelas and chanting “No sex workers? No drug users? No IAC!” The United States still refuses entry to people who sell sex or people who use drugs, groups that are among the most vulnerable to HIV transmission and who have the least access to prevention and treatment resources.
As the protesters filed out, Diane Havlir, conference co-chair, began her remarks again. “We’re here to talk about courage and big ideas,” she told reporters, as bursts of vuvuzela and and chants could be heard in the press room again. “All of us at this table will be judged for our actions.”
That judgment dropped well before the conference itself. “Historically, before an international AIDS conference comes to a city, it’s an opportunity for that city to change these discriminatory laws,” said Kelli Dorsey, executive director of Different Avenues. Dorsey was in part responsible for negotiating with the conference organizers to ensure that sex workers and other marginalized groups were represented. “But that didn’t happen here. So we continue to have to demand to be at the table.”
As we reported on yesterday, a related alternative conference for sex workers is being held in India.
In more loosely related news, a recent report has found that police are spreading HIV among the poor, transgender people, and sex workers.