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.
Millennials represent the first generation that has never known a world without HIV and AIDS, and I fully believe that they will be the generation of leaders to finally and decisively turn the tide against this global pandemic.
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.
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.
Freedom from abuse and violence is a human right that we will continue to fight for at every forum, including the Sex Worker Freedom Festival, which is on at Kolkata at the same time as the International AIDS Conference takes place in Washington DC.
In July, Washington, D.C. will host a conference on HIV/AIDS, where participants will gather to discuss to the latest science and policy of HIV treatment and prevention. Yet the country’s immigration policy denies entry to those disproportionately affected by the pandemic—people dependent on drugs—because of their medical condition.