Monday, November 26, 2007



TO: Organizers of the XVII International AIDS Conference--Information Coordinator,; Global Village Coordinator,; Cultural Programme Coordinator,; Karen Bennett, Communication Manager,; Pierre Peyrot, Media Centre Manager,; Accessibility Coordinator,

FROM: The Global Committee on HIV/AIDS and Disability ( et al)

RE: The Participation of Deaf People and People with Disabilities at the Mexico City AIDS 2008 Conference

DATE: November 23, 2007

We, the undersigned members of the newly formed Global Committee on HIV/AIDS and Disability call upon the organizers of the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City to include people with disabilities at all levels of the conference and to provide far better services than were available at the XVI AIDS conference in Toronto. While we appreciate the efforts you are making to serve individual community members with disabilities, we feel that people with disabilities should also be seen as a group at high risk for HIV/AIDS.

Deaf people and people with disabilities around the world are as or more likely to be HIV+ as their hearing counterparts.1 People with disabilities are often at high risk of sexual abuse.2 Deaf people are particularly vulnerable because of lack of accessible information. Few nations or municipalities document the issue of HIV/AIDS among Deaf people, Blind people, people with physical or mental disabilities or other disabling conditions. This means that it is difficult to track the impact of HIV/AIDS on the community and difficult to get resources to improve conditions. For example, the 2005 UNAIDS report makes no mention of these problems despite Deaf people and people with disabilities being unusually vulnerable populations.

We request that the organizers of AIDS 2008:

- Invite prominent people with disabilities to be Keynote Speakers at AIDS 2008 to highlight some of the important issues related HIV/AIDS in the Deaf community and among people with disabilities.
- Make a good faith effort to solicit and accept scientific papers on issues of deafness and disability.
- Provide a space in the Global Village where Deaf people and people with disabilities can network and access services.
- This space could also serve as an information center where people newly disabled because of HIV/AIDS can get information from people experienced with disabilities.
- Provide time and space in the Media Office for an official press conference of the Global Committee on HIV/AIDS, Deafness and Disability.
- Provide far more sign language interpreting and access services including guides for blind people and physical accessibility coordinators than were available at the AIDS 2006 conference. Ideally, these services should be run out of a central location such as one associated with an area in the Global Village.
- Provide a significant number of focused scholarships for Deaf people and people with disabilities around the world.
- Commit to help advocate on issues concerning Deaf people and people with disabilities around the world including access to prevention information, demographic information about the spread of HIV/AIDS in communities, and appropriate counseling, treatment and support for community members living with HIV/AIDS.

Thank you for your attention to this matter,

Leila Monaghan, University of Wyoming, United States,
Farida Asindua, Handicap International, Kenya,
Andy Bartley, AID Atlanta, United States,
Claudia Bisol, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul and Universidade de Caxias do Sul, Brazil,
Steven C. Fedorowicz, Kansai Gaidai University, Japan,
Anne Finger, Writer and Disability Rights Activist, United States,
Lakshmi Fjord, University of California San Francisco, United States,
Kevin Henderson, HIV/AIDS and Deaf Activist, United States and Kenya,
Tesfaye Gedlu Mebrate, Ethiopian National Association of the Deaf, Ethiopia,
Roberta Goldberg, Interpreter, United States,
Deborah Karp, Deaf AIDS Project Maryland, United States,
Kristin Lindgren, Haverford College, United States,
John Meletse, Gay and Lesbian Archives, South Africa,
Ruth Morgan, The University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa,
Karen Nakamura, Yale University, United States,
Olabisi Olawuyi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria,
Washington Opoyo, Liverpool VCT, Kenya,
Peter Oracha, Maseno University, Kenya,
Constanze Schmaling, HIV/AIDS Researcher and Sign Language Scholar, Germany,
Michel Turgeon, Coalition SIDA des Sourds du Québec, Canada,

1. Schmaling, C., & Monaghan, L. (Eds.). (2006) HIV/AIDS and Deaf Communities. Coleford: Douglas McLean. [Deaf Worlds Focused Edition, Vol. 22 (1).] Available at:; Taegtmeyer, M, Henderson. K, Angala. P, Ngare, C (2006) Responding to the signs: A voluntary counselling and testing programme for the Deaf in Kenya. AIDS 2006 Poster MOPE0876.
2. Groce, N.E. and Trasi, R. (2004) Rape of Individuals with Disability: AIDS and the Folk Belief of Virgin Cleansing. Lancet, 363(9422), 1663-4.

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