Tag Archives: International Aids Conference

What I Learned from Grassroots Activists and AJWS Grantees at the International AIDS Conference

AJWS intern Jessica Newfield (right) at the “Grantee Meet and Greet” with AJWS grantees from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Last Monday, I took part in a gathering of global change-makers. Not only did I have the incredible opportunity to attend the International AIDS Conference, but I also participated in AJWS’s “Grantee Meet and Greet” event, where close to 24 of our grantees from Africa, Asia and Latina America networked, learned together, and shared experiences and stories. Now that the United States’ HIV travel ban has been lifted, grassroots activists and grant-makers can join forces in their fight against HIV and AIDS.

My specific role at the Meet and Greet event was to be the French interpreter for our grantees. It was very powerful to talk with the community leaders whose work I’ve been learning about all summer, and especially to observe how the impact of their work resonates internationally. Read More »

Posted in Human Rights | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

From Puppet Theatre to Dancing about Condoms: Creativity and Innovation at the Global Village of the International AIDS Conference

At the International AIDS Conference, I’ve been spending a lot of time in The Global Village, a space with more than 280 organizations from all over the world demonstrating their ingenuity to fight HIV and AIDS by organizing networking zones, booths, art exhibits, theatre productions and film screenings. I took a tour of The Global Village and was overwhelmed by the creativity. Here are four organizations that are doing exceptional work and are living AJWS’s principles of social change: grassroots-based, human rights-focused and putting women and young people at the center:

Louis Chingandu, executive director of AJWS’s Zimbabwean grantee Southern Africa AIDS Network (SAFAIDS), leading a workshop in The Global Village.

Southern Africa AIDS Network (SAFAIDS)

SAFAIDS—an AJWS grantee based in Zimbabwe—developed an LGBTI Toolkit to share skills, tools and information to help people better understand the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI). The toolkit specifically addresses how sexual orientation and gender identity relates to HIV and gender-based violence.

Youth from The CONDOMIZE! Project doing educational dance in The Global Village.

The CONDOMIZE! Project

With its colorful bright posters and entertaining dancers, The CONDOMIZE! Project highlights the effectiveness of male and female condoms for sexual health and rights. The organization calls on governments, donors and activists to intensify access to quality condoms as a primary defense against HIV. It advocates for investing resources and materials into promoting condom use as the most efficient and available prevention technology in the global AIDS response.


U-Tena uses puppets, drama and theatre to educate people about sexual and reproductive health rights in the Viwandani-Mukuru slums of Kenya. In front of a huge audience in The Global Village, U-Tena did a fantastic puppet show about a young HIV-positive girl and her boyfriend experiencing discrimination, neglect and stigma in their own community.

Interactive art exhibit from YAHAnet.

Youth, the Arts, HIV & AIDS Network (YAHAnet)

YAHAnet is an interdisciplinary networking platform that integrates public health, education, art and digital technology to help young people from around the world participate in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Terry Mukuka is an AJWS program officer for Africa.

Posted in Human Rights, LGBTI Rights, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting to the Promised Land at Last: Lessons from Moses to Speed the Fight Against AIDS

Each year when we reach Parashat Dvarim I experience a rush of exhilaration when I imagine the scene: the Israelites are gathered high on the steppes of Moab, having finally reached the end of their 40-year ordeal in the desert. As they wait for Moses to deliver his final address, they look out at the expanse below, and see the Promised Land at last. For a few moments, perhaps, their thoughts of the traumas behind them and the battles ahead are eclipsed by the simple joy that home is within their sight. Read More »

Posted in Human Rights, Jewish Justice | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Women and Girls are More Than an Investment

A community outreach team run by AJWS grantee Fortress of Hope Africa teaches about gender-based violence. Photo: Evan Abramson

With World Population Day, the London Summit on Family Planning, and initiatives like the Girl Effect, it seems like women and girls have moved to the top of the international development community’s agenda. Since only two cents of out of every international aid dollar is directed to girls, this new focus couldn’t be more welcomed or exciting.

The statistics about the benefits of investing in girls are well-known and staggering. Improving women and girls’ quality of life will provide more opportunities for their families and, by extension, their entire communities. Investing in girls can reap major benefits for a nation’s economy, too. Family planning will help the environment and sustainable development by decreasing global population growth.

But we should not focus on women and girls only because it is an intelligent policy strategy. It is morally imperative and just. Moreover, advancing the status of women and girls should be integrated with a broader human rights agenda. Read More »

Posted in Human Rights | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Eradicating HIV Requires More Than Medicine

Staff and clients of AJWS Haitian grantee SEROvie. The group’s banner reads, “Everyone should be able to live his life with respect and dignity.” (Photo: SEROvie)

With the International AIDS Conference right around the corner, there has been a flurry of articles about stemming the spread of HIV in the developing world. We have certainly made great strides, but many countries’ efforts to maximize access to HIV treatment do not always succeed. Botswana is one example. In the early 2000s, the country demonstrated commendable leadership and rolled out an ambitious plan to test and treat all Botswanans for HIV. But the number of people without access to treatment remained high. This was the result of a number of issues, including stigma. Former President Mogae said, “I’m very frustrated. Because of the stigma attached to this sexually transmitted virus, and because some religious people have said this is a curse or that those who have HIV are sinners, many are afraid to get tested.”

This cautionary tale contains lessons the rest of the world should heed. Even as we celebrate the scientific discoveries and treatment that dramatically reduce ongoing HIV transmission and death, we should not delude ourselves into thinking that a biomedical solution can overcome the devastating effects of social prejudice and bigotry. These effects exacerbate human rights abuses and prevent people who are most vulnerable from accessing life-saving services.

Read More »

Posted in Human Rights | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where are the Women at the International AIDS Conference?

The list of plenary speakers for the 2012 International AIDS Conference was just released and something’s missing: women. How is this possible?! Now in its 19th year of existence, the International AIDS Conference is the world’s largest gathering to address HIV and AIDS. More than 20,000 participants are expected in Washington, D.C. this July to attend the 2012 conference. Read More »

Posted in Human Rights | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment