The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App 
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol cover the XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010)

At Opening of AIDS 2010, Creative Action Turns Conferees' Attention to Governments' Broken Funding Promises

July 20, 2010

Olivia is's community manager.

HIV/AIDS activists from around the world collaborated on a demonstration set to coincide with the opening ceremonies of AIDS 2010. In addition to a banner drop, which, sadly, I missed (though I did procure a photo, courtesy of Kaytee Riek from Health GAP), a diverse contingent marched through the conference exhibit hall shouting. At the entrance of the opening ceremonies, the contingent staged a "die-in" to illustrate the avoidable deaths that inevitably result from a lack of funding for HIV treatment. Health GAP's official press release provides more details about the issues behind the demonstration.

World leaders on helium balloons.

World leaders on helium balloons.

Between the banner drop and the die-in, while the march snaked its way through the conference center, activists held onto giant helium balloons festooned with the faces of world leaders who've pulled the strings of funding shortfalls for HIV treatment. Among those pictured were the G8 leaders (including Barack Obama, who got his own balloon), as well as the presidents of four African nations.

"Museveni's up there," murmured several different groups of passers-by, with a familiarity that led me to believe they must be from Uganda. Others stopped to have their pictures taken with the enormous balloons.

Action organizers passed out signs reading "Broken Promises Kill -- No Retreat -- Fund AIDS" for conferees inside the main hall to hold up at the beginning of the ceremonies while the demonstration was taking place. One of these activists was Karen Kaplan from the Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group.

Karen Kaplan

Karen Kaplan

Paisan Suwannawong

Paisan Suwannawong

"It would be impossible for the government of Thailand to provide treatment without support from the Global Fund, and that is why they have ... universal access to treatment," Kaplan explained. "Every country needs to be able to scale up treatment the way Thailand did. ... We're talking about health, not DVDs. People need to have access to treatment."

Kaplan's partner, Paisan Suwannawong, was on balloon-holding duty across the hallway. He believes activism is the only way to make change around HIV/AIDS. "Many of us know that our governments are not paying attention to people who die, and it's a crisis around the world," Suwannawong said.

"You had a global commitment from the Global Fund, as well as governments that give into the Global Fund -- including our own president, Obama -- promising $50 billion dollars to global AIDS, and that promise has not been met," said Dázon Dixon Diallo of SisterLove, Inc., in Atlanta, Ga., as she, too, passed out signs. "Not only do we have people on waiting lists in the United States, but there are people all over the world waiting in line for their drug treatment, and possibly dying while they wait."

"This is where the most concerned citizens around the world are gathering," said Diallo of the International AIDS Conference. "We can have a much louder collective voice when we [speak out to governments from] our global spaces."

Later in the evening, Paula Akugizibwe of the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) began her opening plenary speech by acknowledging "Broken Promises Kill" as "possibly the most important message" to be asserted at the conference.

Read more of The Viral Truth: Making Sense of HIV/AIDS News, a blog.

Get e-mail notifications every time The Viral Truth is updated.

Copyright © 2010 Body Health Resources Corporation. All rights reserved.


This article was provided by TheBody. It is a part of the publication The XVIII International AIDS Conference.
See Also
More News on HIV Activism

No comments have been made.

Add Your Comment:
(Please note: Your name and comment will be public, and may even show up in
Internet search results. Be careful when providing personal information! Before
adding your comment, please read's Comment Policy.)

Your Name:

Your Location:

(ex: San Francisco, CA)

Your Comment:

Characters remaining:

Please note: Knowledge about HIV changes rapidly. Note the date of this summary's publication, and before treating patients or employing any therapies described in these materials, verify all information independently. If you are a patient, please consult a doctor or other medical professional before acting on any of the information presented in this summary. For a complete listing of our most recent conference coverage, click here.

AIDS 2010
Choose a Topic:
Previous Conferences