The US immigration rules place restrictions on the ability of sex workers and people who use drugs to enter the country. These rules are but one example of the many ways in which national and international laws, regulations and policies are impacting on the HIV vulnerability of most at-risk groups across the world.
We need to support the implementation of evidence-based health policy and effectively address the needs of communities infected and affected by HIV. We need to fully embrace the Washington DC declaration. Only then can we truly turn the tide together.
The U.S. law that prohibits sex workers and drug users from attending the IAC from abroad is a frightening sign of the times. As co-directors of two U.S-based sex workers rights organizations, we stand with sex workers in their global fight for rights.
We cannot respond correctly to HIV/AIDS without addressing the majority who make up the pandemic: women.
For the past 10 years I’ve been open about my HIV status and my drug use history. I can’t lie about these things anymore. I just don’t do that. Now, it’s quite possible that my honesty will cost me a US visa.
We will loudly advocate for the recognition of sex work as work, we will oppose the criminalization of sex work, and support the freedom of sex workers to self-organization and self-determination. In the absence of all these freedoms, HIV prevention policies, programs and efforts will remain ineffective.
Watch Hanna Dovbakh, one of the co-organizers of the Kyiv AIDS Forum speak about the event’s major outcomes. Hanna is a member of the International AIDS Alliance in Ukraine. (Published in partnership with the HIV Human Rights Blog.)
Watch the HIV Human Rights interview with Dasha Ocheret, from the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network, Lithuania. “Delegates of AIDS 2012 have to know how cancellation of 11 round of Global Fund funding affects life of a mother, a young person in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and what needs to be done fast to give these people hope.”
To be at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC would mean a lot to me. I would’ve wanted to share our issues with the delegates and I’m sorry that the US immigration policy restricts entry into the country for people like me.
I dreamed of coming to Washington to speak at AIDS 2012 to deliver a message to those with the financial and political means to turn the tide of the epidemic: For millions of us, repressive drug policies and stigma stand in the way of treatment and prevention. But I am barred from participating.