The Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) and the International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) proudly announce our joint decision to stand behind communities and join the co-organizers of HIV 2020 in Mexico City.
HIV 2020 provides a safe alternative for individuals who cannot or will not enter the United States of America (USA) or who cannot afford to attend AIDS 2020.
Legal travel restrictions act as a barrier for sex workers, people who use drugs and people who have been formerly arrested to enter the country. More than half of GNP+ staff may not be able to obtain a USA visa due to travel restrictions, including the Executive Director. ICW has been made aware of similar concerns from membership. While waivers may be issued, it is unclear what the effect is of disclosing to the USA government that we are part of key populations, as required in the USA visa application. Rejection of USA visa applications may also permanently influence an individual’s ability to apply for a visa to other countries.
Olena Stryzhak, Acting Global Chair of ICW, declares, “We stand beside GNP+ in supporting HIV 2020 as an alternative for those who cannot attend the AIDS conference. For many people living with HIV and representatives of key populations, these gatherings are either an opportunity of a lifetime or a serious impetus for changes for the benefit of ourselves and society. Only a strong community can improve the world around us.”
United, we have been engaging in discussions with a broad range of partners globally, including key population and some people living with HIV networks and groups, and have been monitoring the socio-political situation in the USA. Human rights conditions have significantly worsened in the last few years.
Current USA travel restrictions pose a significant barrier to GNP+ and ICW being able to freely consult with our constituency in all our diversity, and especially those most vulnerable and at risk of HIV.
As global advocacy organisations, we always encourage communities living with HIV and key populations to join marches, protests and demonstrations that are aligned with their issues and agendas. However, doing so with levels of police brutality in the USA, particularly towards people of colour, raises concerns for us about the safety of participants.
It is important to note that GNP+ and ICW support the individual decisions of those who wish, are able and can afford to attend the AIDS 2020 conference in San Francisco and Oakland. We also acknowledge and support communities and groups living with HIV in the USA who are working towards ensuring that AIDS 2020 pushes their domestic advocacy agenda.
Rico Gustav, Executive Director of GNP+, states: “Join us at HIV2020 where communities are reclaiming the global HIV response. We need to reclaim the response by acting in solidarity with people living with HIV, advocates, community-based organizations, healthcare and services providers, researchers, public health officials, and funders in order to ensure that the global HIV response becomes more than just numbers or simply rhetoric.”
The HIV 2020 conference is an opportunity to redefine and reinvigorate a lethargic HIV response by ensuring that there is strong political and civil society leadership and adequate resources to address the social economic and structural barriers that continue to deny key populations access to much needed prevention, treatment, care and support services. Only together, with our different expertise, guided by lived experience and committed to doing things differently can we meaningfully respond and ensure that we leave no-one behind”.
Registration for HIV2020 in Mexico City will start on 23 September 2019. Please visit www.hiv2020.org for more information.