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Useful information on a worldwide pandemic

by Archives October 19, 2005

Concordia’s Lecture Series on HIV/AIDS will start its 13th consecutive season Oct. 20. This year’s series combines four separate speeches that run throughout the school year and address a number of issues about the pandemic.

Global Advocacy Officer for The International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (ICW), Berri Hull, will be at Concordia’s Hall Building this Thursday to give her lecture, entitled “Women with HIV: Developing Policy, Taking Action.”

“We are focusing on women and HIV because a lot of the time it’s ignored,” said student co-ordinator Chris Brosseau. “Heterosexual women are being affected more than ever.”

Brosseau, a Concordia student taking a minor in sexuality, has been involved with the lecture series for two years. She also currently volunteers for Aids Community Care Montreal (ACCM).

“The lecture series is trying to provide useful information. We don’t want to just tell people to protect themselves and be on their way.”

According to their press release, Hull’s lecture will be a personal account of her work in the ICW. She will also address the need for policy development and action plans to meet the needs of HIV women worldwide

“It is extremely important to show the different aspects of it [HIV/AIDS]” Brosseau said.

ICW was founded in 1992 at the Amsterdam international AIDS conference. At the conference, HIV positive women from around the globe gathered together in response to the lack of information, support and services available for women living with HIV worldwide. The women agreed that there was a need to intervene in the world crisis.

At their first ICW pre-conference, the only international network run by HIV positive women drew up their “Twelve Statements.” The statements form the basis of the organization’s philosophy and relates to the needs of women living with HIV.

“The main goal [of the series] is to have a broad look at the pandemic,” Brosseau said. “We will cover all perspectives; social, medical and artistic.”

The lecture series will continue Nov. 17 with a speech by author Patrick Califa, entitled “Sexual Practice, Sexual Politics.” Film/video maker John Greyson will make his “Harvesting the Figs” lecture on Jan. 19 and the series will conclude with its final speech March 16.

Berri Hull’s lecture will take place this Thursday in the H-110 room of Concordia’s Hall Building.

ICW’s 12 Statements

To improve the situation of women living with HIV and AIDS throughout the world, we need:

1. Encouragement and support for the development of self-help groups and networks.

2. The media to realistically portray us, not to stigmatise us.

3. Accessible and affordable health care (conventional and complementary) and research into how the virus affects women.

4. Funding for services to lessen our isolation and meet our basic needs. All funds directed to us need to be supervised to make sure we receive them.

5. The right to be respected and supported in our choices about reproduction, including the right to have, or not to have, children.

6. Recognition of the right of our children and orphans to be cared for and of the importance of our role as parents.

7. Education and training of health care providers and the community about women’s risk and our needs. Up-to-date and accurate information about all the issues for women living with HIV/AIDS should be easily and freely available.

8. Recognition of the fundamental human rights of all women living with HIV/AIDS, particularly women in prison, drug users and sex workers. These fundamental rights should include employment, travel without restriction and housing.

9. Research into female infectivity, including woman-to-woman transmission,and recognition of and support for lesbians living with HIV/AIDS.

10. Decision making power and consultation at all levels of policy and programmes affecting us.

11. Economic support for women living with HIV/AIDS in developing countries to help them to be self-sufficient and independent.

12. Any definition of AIDS to include symptoms and clinical manifestations specific to women.

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