On the occasion of World AIDS Day 2019, Sex Workers Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN) and International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE) commemorate those who have died from AIDS related illnesses and take this opportunity to join the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP), UNAIDS, SWAN) and International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE) commemorate those who have died from AIDS related illnesses and take this opportunity to join the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP), UNAIDS, PLAPERTS, Aidsfonds, INPUDand many other organisations and activists in announcing our full support for HIV2020.
This year’s theme for World AIDS Day, announced by UNAIDS, is ‘Communities Make the Difference’ and emphasises the essential role that communities have played and continue to play in the HIV response at the international, national and local levels. The decision of the International AIDS Society to organise the next International AIDS Conference (AIDS2020) in the United States where travel restrictions applied to sex workers, people who use drugs, people with a criminal record and people from predominantly Muslim countries as well as some countries in Central America, fails to recognise the importance of community leadership when it comes to create and support an effective HIV response. Many activists from wide range of criminalised communities will not be able to participate and their voices will be lost, once again. Although travelling to United States had always been risky for sex workers and many other marginalised communities due to the countries hostile attitude, this situation has worsened under Trump administration.
Further, this decision of organising the conference in the USA, despite the concerns raised by many communities, contradicts the ‘five IAS values’ where it states that IAS ‘support the greater involvement and meaningful engagement of people living with HIV’.
While we are not calling to boycott the AIDS2020, we do believe that HIV2020 will be a more welcoming alternative to AIDS2020 for those who are excluded from participating. For the reasons above, we support the decision of organising an alternative to AIDS2020 in Mexico between the 5thand 7thof July 2020. We encourage our members and other organisations to support HIV2020 by officially endorsing it.More details about HIV2020 and the programme can be found here.