World Aids Day : Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise.

Finance Ministers Meeting: Q&A with international press


As you know, World AIDS is happening on Tuesday December 1st.
Unfortunately, HIV and AIDS are not issues that are taken seriously enough in the Middle East, let alone the Rights of People Living With HIV.
Why not start Keeping the Promise? Follow me while I give you a quick overview of the situation in the Middle East, along with resources for you to organise an event for World AIDS day 2009, or at least to talk about the issue around you (Start at home, if you can get Lebanese parents to listen to half of what you’re saying, you’re already a star).
Come on. Follow me. I swear I won’t hurt you.
Last week UNAIDS published its 2009 update on the AIDS epidemic throughout the world. The following results for the Middle East came out of this study:
·        In 2008, an estimated 35 000 [24 000–46 000] people in the Middle East and North Africa became infected with HIV, and 20 000 [15 000–25 000] AIDS-related deaths occurred. The total number of people living with HIV rose from 200 000 [150 000– 250 000] in 2001 to 310 000 [250 000–380 000] in 2008.
This should be food for thought for people claiming that there is no HIV in our region, that it doesn’t exist, and that if it does, oh well, it’s an evil import from the West. I’d also like to add that these figures are a mere estimation. Indeed, I’ve heard UNAIDS and UNFPA (just to name a few) delegates stating that, given the lack of data made available to them by the authorities in the Middle East, they couldn’t give precise figures. Why our governments always feel that we have to be the champions of unaccountability is simply beyond me.
HIV exists. Throughout the World.
Admit it, and do something about it.
·        A large number of South Asian men who are guest workers in the Middle East and North Africa risk becoming infected through contact with sex workers in the region.
Hence the absolute need to run
programmes with sex workers and teach them about HIV. Prevention campaigns towards high-risk groups including items such as condom negotiation with clients should be the first step of nation-wide public health campaigns. If the Middle Eastern administrations don’t feel that they’re adequately equipped to run such campaigns, they should simply extend a hand to civil society.  God knows there are qualified resource people around the world willing to share their expertise. (Ah but I forgot, our governments are not particularly keen on civil society).
·        The most vulnerable groups to the epidemic in the Middle East are injecting drug users, men who have sex with men and sex workers and their clients. For example, studies have shown that the HIV prevalence (the number of infected people ratio) in Lebanon is likely to increase if heroine use carries on the way it currently does. Harm Reduction activities would thus be central to fight HIV in Lebanon (For more information on Harm Reduction in the Middle East, please visit Menahra website, and Skoun in Lebanon)
Those are high-risk group, but remember. It can happen to each and every             one of us. In fact, in Lebanon for example, the epidemic trend seems to be shifting to young heterosexual couples.
Nevertheless, some highlights and rays of hope are to be underlined. Indeed, countries like Yemen and Morocco have seen their testing and counseling rate increase following awareness raising campaigns on the issue. In terms of access to Anti-retroviral drugs, Lebanon has signed in 2003 a drug deal with the pharmaceutical company Merck , offering two AIDS medications, Efavirenz and Indinavir, at 15% of the market rate. Civil Society also seems to be moving, with initiatives such as The Lebanese AIDS Society, or the newly born Think+ Network, a Lebanese-based network that advocates for the right of people living with HIV throughout the Middle East.
And now, to World AIDS Day 2009! WAD09 is articulated around the theme “Human Rights and Universal Access” . Human Rights, because the rights of People Living with HIV Rights ARE Human Rights. The Right not to be discriminated against is a core principle of International Human Rights Law. See, a Human Right. The right to life (and what is the right to have access to treatment if not an avatar of the right to life?) is also a core right that simply can’t be infringed, no matter the circumstances. See, more Human Rights. Today, in the Middle East, only 14% of people that need them have access to ARVs. Grossly simplified, it would be like saying that only 14% of diabetics have access to insulin.
Respecting Human Rights is one of the powerful means of stopping the epidemic: for examples, if violence against women was stopped, and women’s rights respected, the HIV prevalence of women would decrease. Indeed, for example, violent or forced sexual relations increase the odds of being infected.
I hear you complain about my ranting, so I promise to have the last bit of it short and sweet.
What’s happening next to you for World AIDS DAY?

Er, well, that’s about the (known) event in the Middle East. If you have one, please input it on the World AIDS Campaign WAD Event Calendar: http://www.worldaidscampaign.org/en/Key-events/World-AIDS-Day/Events-Calendar/WAD-2009-Events-Calendar
Which brings me nicely to what YOU can do: 

  • You can TWEET about it, using the hashtag #WAD09
  • Finance Ministers Meeting: Q&A with international press
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    You can add the FACEBOOK App for WAD 09 http://apps.facebook.com/worldaids/
  • You can become Friends on Facebook with the World AIDS Campaign http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=639165037&v=feed#/profile.php?id=100000021561970
  • You can plaster the World AIDS Campaign posters in your neighbourhood (you can find them at: http://www.worldaidscampaign.org/en/World-AIDS-Day-Materials )

Finance Ministers Meeting: Q&A with international press

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Finance Ministers Meeting: Q&A with international press

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Oh, and if you’re wondering
why you should care. Well, just for the same reason you care for everything
else, i.e, the environment, Human Rights, Politics: because 1) People are dying
and suffering in their body and soul, in vain, because there are things we can
do to prevent and stop these sufferings, and 2) Because you want to be able to
look at yourself in a mirror and not think: the world’s a mess, and I’m not
doing anything to change it.

As Middle Eastern people, we’ve seen enough unkempt promises not to be
willing to keep this one.
STOP AIDS. KEEP THE PROMISE. 
More
Resources:

Comments
2 Responses to “World Aids Day : Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise.”
  1. Paola says:

    Additionnal info given by Greg Bali on HIV and AIDS activities in Syria. Thanks Greg! 1. Syrian Family Planning Association: http://www.syria-fpa.org/site/index.php?lang=en&catid=119 me semble être les plus actif dans ce domaine. Ils ont financé une campagne d'affiches publicitaires en février 2009: http://www.thenewalphabet.com/details2956.html (Non au Sida) 2. Syrian Women Observatory est une association qui a un site excellent en 4 langues (AR-EN-FR-DE) et qui se préoccupe pricipalement des droits de la femme mais elle publie aussi des articles de sensibilisation sur le sida. Malheureusement je n'ai trouvé ces articles que dans la partie arabophone du site, mais j'ai pas trop cherché. Voici une recherche google avec le mot clé aids dans l'ensemble du site: http://www.google.it/search?hl=en&rlz=1C1CHMG_en-GBFR301CH304&q=aids+site:nesasy.org&start=0&sa=N 3. un blog intéressant (Arab HIV) avec une statistique intéressante qui date de septembre 2009: le nombre des cas du Sida en Syrie 557 à la fin de 2008. J'ai aucune idée quelle est leur degré de crédibilité, à prendre avec des pincettes. (mieux vaut regarder les stats chez UNAIDS)

  2. angie nader says:

    THANKS FOR BRINGING AWARENESS!

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