2012 Report on participation in Disability & HIV Leadership Forum

Date & Location

22 – 27 July 2012
Gallaudet University, Washington D.C and the 19th International AIDS Conference
Walter E. Washington Convention Centre, Washington D.C

Report Content

Disability Rights Promotion International – Regional Officer for Eastern Europe, Mr. Rados Keravica attended a full-day advocacy training Disability and HIV Leadership Forum organized by AIDS-Free World immediately preceding the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. The Forum brought together 23 young disability rights advocates, activists, students, organizers and leaders from all around the world, from 20 countries: Barbados, Ethiopia, Guyana, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Mali, Mongolia, Namibia, Nepal, Rwanda, Serbia, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, United States, Uruguay, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The forum, presented in collaboration with Disabled Peoples’ International (DPI) and Gallaudet University, aimed at raising the capacities of young leaders in advocacy and mainstreaming disability into HIV related policies programmes and strategies, connecting young disability rights leaders with advocacy experts in the fields for HIV, disability rights and human rights.

The forum provided a venue to exchange ideas and experiences among the pioneers and young leaders from different countries around the globe. Through this forum, AIDS-Free World gave a chance to the pioneers in passing the torch to young activists who are fully equipped to lead the struggle for inclusion of people with disabilities in the global AIDS movement. One of the aims of the forum was to create joint strategy for advocacy efforts at AIDS 2012 and to drive attention of key stakeholders to issues of persons with disabilities and significance of their inclusion in MARP groups and it represented excellent opportunity to help the next generation to lead the global disability rights movement. This one day event led these young advocates to be more active and participative in claiming their unseen rights as a person. The change from being a dreamer to a noise maker and from aiming to doing concrete actions enables them to shout out and spread the need to be included in the global Aids movement. Their voices created The Washington DC Declaration PLUS: Including the Invisible 15 Percent.

An interactive exercise brought forth the skills of these young leaders to participate and represent the 15% of the world’s population (Persons with Disabilities) at the 19th International Aids Conference which run from 22nd to 27th of July 2012. All throughout the week, these young leaders’ tried to enhance visibility of persons with disability and help public to recognize the need for inclusion of PWDs in HIV related strategies, policies and programmes. Also, they constantly networked with other HIV advocates, policy makers, and session panelists. They tried to mainstream disability issues by asking specific questions at symposiums about the lack of inclusion of disability rights and in almost every situation; they were given uninformed or incorrect responses which implied that groups most at risk of HIV are groups involved in risky behaviour and persons with disabilities should be considered as part of MARP only in case of risky behaviour. Such opinions should be changed because sole situation of persons with disabilities: lack of access to programmes of prevention, health services, prejudices are enough reasons why PWDs should be considered as part of MARP. Also the press conference for presenting the Washington declaration PLUS was organized to inform journalists about the serious need for inclusion of people with disabilities in HIV response.

Still a lot of work and advocacy remains to be done in fight for inclusion persons with disabilities in HIVrelated issues. The group of young activists brought together by AIDS Free world is expected to develop into advocacy and consultative body which would help for better inclusion of PWDs in next International AIDSConference in Melbourne 2014 both in terms of accessibility and content.

Part of the reasons why persons with disabilities are not mentioned in recent UNAIDS report in any single lines lay in the fact of lack of data, and lack of monitoring of situation of persons with disabilities in relation with HIV and access to health services and programmes of prevention. There fore, parts of the DRPI holistic monitoring report should refer to this issues and the existing resources and monitoring projects should be used to bring the attention to this important issue for persons with disabilities.

Contact Info

Radoš Keravica
Regional Coordinator for Eastern Europe
Disability Rights Promotion International – DRPI

Center for Society Orientation – COD
Phone: +381113113860/ +381646498117
Email Radoš Keravica

Disability Monitor Initiative in South East Europe