HIV: Call to twin rich north with poor south
Western HIV agencies should support Third World counterparts
Assist with funding, equipment, training and travel, urges Peter
Toronto, Canada – 10 August 2006
“Western HIV organisations should twin with their counterparts in
developing countries to help overcome the huge global disparities in
the resources available for the fight against HIV,” according to
British gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who was the
keynote speaker at a satellite event linked to the International AIDS
Conference in Toronto, Canada, today (10 August 2006).
“We need to respond to requests for help from HIV organisations in the
global south. Instead of waiting for action from governments, every
HIV agency in the West should link up with a counterpart organisation
in the Third World – empowering them with funding, equipment, training
and travel costs, so they can attend international AIDS conferences.
“Well financed western HIV organisations can easily afford to buy
computers and phones for badly under-funded HIV groups in Africa,
Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
“We should heed their calls for help and proactively offer our
support. Training local activists in HIV counselling, political
lobbying and media communications are simple, practical ways to
empower these groups,” he said.
Mr Tatchell was speaking at the satellite conference: “MSM & HIV:
Advancing a global agenda for gay men and other men who have sex with
men,” held at the Toronto Marriott Eaton Centre.
Mr Tatchell’s speech also highlighted:
• “HIV and LGBT human rights are global issues that transcend national
boundaries. We are all in this pandemic together. But not all of us
are on a level playing field. HIV is happening in a world divided by
massive inequalities. The world is split into rich countries and poor
countries. There is no parity of opportunities and resources to combat
HIV. The world is also divided into countries where HIV and LGBT
organisations operate in conditions of relative freedom, where they
have access to elected and accountable governments. But there are many
countries – a majority of countries – where similar organisations face
severe restrictions and even overt repression. It is an urgent
priority for free and better off western HIV and LGBT organisations to
twin with sister organisations in developing nations. What is needed,
above all else, is global solidarity in the fight against HIV.
• “It is not only homophobia that is undermining the fight against
HIV, but also sexphobia. We need to challenge sexual hang-ups and
phobias through education that is sex-positive and sex-affirmative.
People who feel ashamed about sex, and guilty about their own bodies
and sexuality, are the least likely to practise safer sex, get tested
for HIV and other STIs, seek prompt treatment for HIV infection and
take care of their general health.
• “The global struggle for LGBT human rights, including the struggle
to end the criminalisation of same-sex behaviour, is crucial to the
fight against HIV. Illegality fosters secrecy, furtiveness and shame.
Open and empowered LGBT communities are best able to offer effective
peer education in HIV prevention.
• “The closet is an incubation lab for HIV. Hiding one’s sexuality and
leading a secret double life feeds stress and self-loathing, which is
not conducive to safer sex. Giving people the security and confidence
to be open about their sexuality is an important aspect of the HIV
• “HIV is a political pandemic. We need to reclaim HIV as a political
and human rights issue, as well as a health concern. This means
campaigning against the continuing under-funding of safer sex projects
targeted at gay and bisexual men; the marginalisation of men who have
sex with men by many governments and AIDS organisations; prejudice and
discrimination against people with HIV in housing and employment; and
the often homophobic bias of the education curriculum, of health-care
services and of the insurance industry,” said Mr Tatchell.
Further information: Peter Tatchell 020 7403 1790