|TCNAP Participates in AIDS 2010 Conference|
|Written by Kazz Forbes|
|Thursday, 29 July 2010 10:34|
VIENNA, Austria — Faced with a growing concern of people being infected with HIV in certain parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia by intravenous drug use, the 18th International AIDS Conference “AIDS 2010” was held here July 18-23 at the Messe Wein Congress Center, bringing international attention towards the growing epidemic.
The selection of the AIDS 2010 host city was also a reflection of the fundamental role Vienna played in bridging Eastern and Western Europe, and allowed an examination of the epidemic’s impact in Eastern Europe.
“The theme of AIDS 2010, ‘Rights Here, Right Now,’ was chosen to emphasize the critical and fundamental connection between human rights and HIV,” Dr. Julio Montaner, president of the International AIDS Society, director of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, and AIDS 2010 co-chair, said in opening remarks. “There can be no end to the pandemic unless we secure full protection of human rights for those most vulnerable to HIV and AIDS.
At AIDS 2010, the Turks and Caicos Islands were represented by Aldora Robinson, TCI National AIDS Programme Coordinator; Royelle Robinson, member of Rapport; and Kazz Forbes, journalist/reporter for the TCI National AIDS Programme (TCNAP) and a member of Rapport. The delegates attended the conference through financing by the Pan American Health Organization (America).
“The TCI HIV/AIDS response is a robust one, our prevention programs are creative and we are now looking to make them more cutting-edge so that our messages are memorable and influence behavioural change,” Aldora Robinson said in a press briefing on HIV/AIDS in the TCI.
“Our Treatment and Care Program is one of the best in the region and are leading as far as British Overseas Territories are concerned,” she said. “All persons known to the program that need treatment are on treatment. Those that are not on treatment are just not ready for it. We have been able to access antiretroviral therapy at a reasonable cost.
“One of our major challenges is stigma and discrimination which affects those persons on treatment who are not ready to disclose or even see the need to disclose,” Aldora Robinson said. “It also prevents persons from even wanting to know their status even when they think they have been exposed. It prevents those who know that they are positive from accessing care, forcing them to engage in risky behaviour as they are forced to act as if nothing is wrong.
“We live in a small community where it is perceived that everyone knows the other’s business which is far from the truth as far as HIV is concerned, but it is the perception. Therefore, persons not wanting to be known, jeopardize their health by not attending clinics or taking their medication when needed. Persons who are HIV positive also have the right to employment just like anyone else.”
Aldora Robinson said TCI residents needs to mature in their attitudes towards HIV/AIDS so that people who are positive can access care and treatment without feeling threatened of being ostracized within their communities.
Royelle Robinson stressed that the TCI government needs to focus more attention to the issues surrounding human rights as a tool to address HIV: “We as a country need to act now. This is critical to addressing all of our challenges. If we fix this, we are more than three quarters of the way to tackling HIV within the Turks and Caicos Islands.”
AIDS 2010 saw more than 20,000 delegates from more than 193 countries which assembled those operational in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers, individuals living with HIV and other persons devoted to ending the pandemic.
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