Tuesday, January 29, 2008

More Deaths from AIDS

The Remember Their Names memorial website, http://www.deafaids.info/remember/their_names.html has recently updated their list, adding names of Deaf community members who died of AIDS in 2007.

25 new names were added

23 men, 2 women

17 United States
6 Canada
1 Guam
1 United Kingdom

May they rest in peace and may we find new ways to spread the message about the dangers of HIV/AIDS

AIDS 2008 Update

The organizers of AIDS 2008 responded very positively to our letter and we (the Global Committee on HIV/AIDS and Disability) are in the process of submitting an application for a Global Village Networking Zone and a number of cultural activities including an outreach program for the Deaf community of Mexico City. AIDS 2008 will be remarkable opportunity for HIV/AIDS with disabilities to reach out both to an underserved local population and to raise awareness of the problems on an international level.

Open letter to AIDS 2008 Organizers


TO: Organizers of the XVII International AIDS Conference
FROM: The Global Committee on HIV/AIDS and Disability
RE: The Participation of Deaf People and People with Disabilities at the Mexico City AIDS 2008 Conference
DATE: November 23, 2007

We, the undersigned members of the newly formed Global Committee on HIV/AIDS and Disability call upon the organizers of the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City to include people with disabilities at all levels of the conference and to provide far better services than were available at the XVI AIDS conference in Toronto. While we appreciate the efforts you are making to serve individual community members with disabilities, we feel that people with disabilities should also be seen as a group at high risk for HIV/AIDS.

Deaf people and people with disabilities around the world are as or more likely to be HIV+ as their hearing counterparts.1 People with disabilities are often at high risk of sexual abuse.2 Deaf people are particularly vulnerable because of lack of accessible information. Few nations or municipalities document the issue of HIV/AIDS among Deaf people, Blind people, people with physical or mental disabilities or other disabling conditions. This means that it is difficult to track the impact of HIV/AIDS on the community and difficult to get resources to improve conditions. For example, the 2005 UNAIDS report makes no mention of these problems despite Deaf people and people with disabilities being unusually vulnerable populations.

We request that the organizers of AIDS 2008:

• Invite prominent people with disabilities to be Keynote Speakers at AIDS 2008 to highlight some of the important issues related HIV/AIDS in the Deaf community and among people with disabilities.
• Make a good faith effort to solicit and accept scientific papers on issues of deafness and disability.
• Provide a space in the Global Village where Deaf people and people with disabilities can network and access services.
• This space could also serve as an information center where people newly disabled because of HIV/AIDS can get information from people experienced with disabilities.
• Provide time and space in the Media Office for an official press conference of the Global Committee on HIV/AIDS, Deafness and Disability.
• Provide far more sign language interpreting and access services including guides for blind people and physical accessibility coordinators than were available at the AIDS 2006 conference. Ideally, these services should be run out of a central location such as one associated with an area in the Global Village.
• Provide a significant number of focused scholarships for Deaf people and people with disabilities around the world.
• Commit to help advocate on issues concerning Deaf people and people with disabilities around the world including access to prevention information, demographic information about the spread of HIV/AIDS in communities, and appropriate counseling, treatment and support for community members living with HIV/AIDS.

Thank you for your attention to this matter,

Leila Monaghan, University of Wyoming, United States
Farida Asindua, Handicap International, Kenya
Andy Bartley, AID Atlanta, United States
Claudia Bisol, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul and Universidade de Caxias do Sul, Brazil
Steven C. Fedorowicz, Kansai Gaidai University, Japan
Anne Finger, Writer and Disability Rights Activist, United States
Lakshmi Fjord, University of California San Francisco, United States
Nora Groce, Yale University, United States
Kevin Henderson, HIV/AIDS and Deaf Activist, United States and Kenya,
Tesfaye Gedlu Mebrate, Ethiopian National Association of the Deaf, Ethiopia
Roberta Goldberg, Interpreter, United States
Deborah Karp, Deaf AIDS Project Maryland, United States
Kristin Lindgren, Haverford College, United States
John Meletse, Gay and Lesbian Archives, South Africa
Ruth Morgan, The University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Karen Nakamura, Yale University, United States
Olabisi Olawuyi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria
Washington Opoyo, Liverpool VCT, Kenya
Peter Oracha, Maseno University, Kenya
Constanze Schmaling, HIV/AIDS researcher and sign language scholar, Germany,
Michel Turgeon, Coalition SIDA des Sourds du Québec, Canada

1. Schmaling, C., & Monaghan, L. (Eds.). (2006) HIV/AIDS and Deaf Communities. Coleford: Douglas McLean. [Deaf Worlds Focused Edition, Vol. 22 (1).] Available at: http://www.forestbooks.com/pages/featured.htm; Taegtmeyer, M, Henderson. K, Angala. P, Ngare, C (2006) Responding to the signs: A voluntary counselling and testing programme for the Deaf in Kenya. AIDS 2006 Poster MOPE0876.
2. Groce, N.E. and Trasi, R. (2004) Rape of Individuals with Disability: AIDS and the Folk Belief of Virgin Cleansing. Lancet, 363(9422), 1663-4.

HIV/AIDS Information at the Rainbow Alliance for the Deaf Conference

The Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf Conference in July 2007 in Atlanta, Georgia had a number of events connected to HIV/AIDS. These included an educational outreach talk by Andy Bartlett of AIDS Atlanta, an exhibition of pieces of the AIDS Quilt and Michel Turgeon, long time AIDS activist from Montreal winning the RAD 2007 Man of the Year award.