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Internationl Indigenous Leaders Discuss HIV/AIDS

November 6th, 2009

At the 5th International Policy Dialogue on HIV/AIDS and Indigenous Persons held in Ottawa, hosted by Public Health Agency of Canada, Oct. 21 -23rd, 2009, the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN) was selected to lead the International Indigenous HIV/AIDS Working Group. Attended by Indigenous Peoples from New Zealand, Chile, Australia, Guatemala, United States, Brazil and Canada, the delegates overwhelmingly supported the leadership of the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network through its work in addressing HIV/AIDS issues amongst the Aboriginal people in Canada.

“We want to continue this momentum that we have started in Ottawa to ensure that Māori, Indigenous and Aboriginal HIV/AIDS issues throughout the world are included in…Vienna and beyond”, said Apihaka Mack, Chair of INA (Māori, Indigenous &South Pacific) HIV/AIDS Foundation. The International AIDS Conference to be held in Vienna 2010.

The goals of the International Indigenous HIV/AIDS Working Group are based on the Toronto Charter: 1) increase the integration of HIV/AIDS and Indigenous peoples at the International level; 2) improve meaningful inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in research policy and program development; 3) ensure Indigenous Peoples are more accurately represented in HIV/AIDS epidemiological data; 4) increase support for capacity development to integrate HIV/AIDS and Indigenous Peoples; 5) Develop an Indigenous specific approach to the social determinants of health; and 6) ensure that Indigenous and Aboriginal HIV/AIDS issues are presented at the International Conference on HIV/AIDS in Vienna and beyond.

“The 5th International Policy Dialogue on HIV/AIDS and Indigenous Persons has provided an opportunity to support Māori in knowledge exchange, of cultural projects and programs in Māori communities in New Zealand. INA will continue to support CAAN to take the lead internationally with Indigenous Peoples to ensure that Indigenous voices are heard on HIV/AIDS issues. We take pride in taking a leadership role for Māori and New Zealand in this initiative”, states Marama Pala CEO of INA (Māori, Indigenous &South Pacific) HIV/AIDS Foundation.

It is important to note that many Indigenous and Aboriginal People throughout the world continue to fall behind in receiving universal access to prevention, care, treatment and support; a goal set by world leaders for 2010. HIV/AIDS is disproportionately distributed across global populations, as it hits hardest in areas where structural economic and development challenges are greatest and it is especially evident within the Indigenous populations. This is a concern for Māori communities, where Māori are overrepresented among reported AIDS cases at a startling 40.6% and are 7.2% of total HIV infections.


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