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16th International AIDS Conference

Media Release 19 April, 2005

Indigenous* Peoples’ Satellite Planning for 16th International AIDS Conference, 2006

Maori are being encouraged to join discussion on the impact of HIV/AIDS on indigenous peoples at the 16th International Aids Conference in Toronto.

Two-Spirited (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) People of the First Nations and the Ontario Aboriginal HIV/AIDS Strategy have begun the planning for the Indigenous Peoples’ Satellite at the XVIth International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada in August, 2006.

Clive Aspin, New Zealand’s representative on the planning committee, has just returned from Toronto where an international Indigenous planning committee with representatives from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States met to discuss the format for this historic gathering.

The Satellite will be held the day before the 16th International AIDS Conference and will give people an opportunity to network, liaise and scope out the various tracks of the conference.

“The Indigenous Peoples’ Satellite will provide a forum for indigenous people from around the world to discuss issues of vital importance for Indigenous communities as we struggle to deal with the challenges posed by the AIDS epidemic,” said Clive Aspin.

“We expect the Satellite meeting to provide an opportunity for people to become better informed about HIV care, treatment, prevention and support. They will then be in a position to respond to the AIDS epidemic in a cohesive manner, specific to each of their own communities,” he stated.

Around the world, HIV infection rates continue to rise dramatically with indigenous people in many parts of the world being adversely affected by the epidemic. In Canada, for example, Aboriginal people are disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic. There are strong indications that this is the case with other indigenous populations.”

More than 1,500 Indigenous people are expected to attend the Toronto conference. Plans are being formulated to bring Maori and other indigenous people to the conference so that they can return to their communities to better inform people about how to deal with the increasing rates of infection in their communities. This Indigenous Satellite will enhance an Indigenous presence and ensure that their needs are reflected on the agenda.

The Indigenous Peoples’ Satellite will be a significant event for Indigenous community based activists, researchers and people living with HIV/AIDS to strategize prior to the conference.

This will be the largest International AIDS Conference ever, with approximately 30,000 of the world’s most important scientists, physicians, health care workers and community leaders working on HIV/AIDS and sharing current knowledge on a full spectrum of issues about the global epidemic.

“This epidemic is far from over,” says Clive Aspin. “We need to take advantage of opportunities such as this if we are going to overcome and beat the devastating impact of HIV on indigenous communities.”


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