Opening Ceremonies rarely do it for me, however I must say that this time it was moving to have Piscataway ,tribal leader of indigenous people who have lived on this land for over 12.000 years, blessing us and remanding us how we are all connected through our ancestors, not only to each other, but to earth and nature. Well done IAS.
From then on it went all a bit pear shaped with a series of middle aged men (OK the gay men chorus was nice but it was like another 100 men on stage!). It took quite a few speakers to finally have somebody HIV positive and under 30: the incredible Anna Sango, a 23 year old Zimbabwean, who called for justice, basic sex education, an end to violence and against women and more. Otherwise, most of the speakers up to then, had only referred to women as mothers, and treating women only to prevent vertical transmission. WE are not just vectors of infections and vessels for babies! What about those of us who are not mothers?
Michel Sidibe, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, did a good speech, however he kept referring to the Global Plan of ‘Elimination’ of HIV all infections in children (and keeping mothers alive….almost as an after thought). I find the word elimination violent, it suggests to me that extreme measures can be taken, and evry time I hear it I recoil. I know how many women living with HIV are still coerced into abortions, and even sterilisation, as this article published yesterday by Open Democracy by my friend Anca remind us.
Michelle also announced that the Republic of Korea has lifted the Travel Ban for People Living with HIV. Yahey! To conclude he called for a Robin Hood tax to finance HIV. He reminded us that the end of HIV is possible, but it is not free. It is priceless!
You can watch the webcast of Opening Session here