July 20, 2010
Here's a hodgepodge of underreported news coming out of IAC:
With the help of African advocacy organizations and networks, the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative, and UNICEF; Global AIDS Alliance released its Campaign to End Pediatric HIV/AIDS (CEPA) toolkit at IAC. CEPA seeks to increase coverage rates for comprehensive prevention of parent-to-child transmission and pediatric treatment services from the current average of 45% to the globally agreed-upon target of 80%. Launched in 2009, CEPA is initially focusing on Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
Watch Global AIDS Alliance Chairperson Graca Machel discuss pediatric AIDS in sub Sahara Africa
Julio Montaner, famous AIDS scientist and president of the International AIDS Society, believes that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper skipped out on IAC because of fear of backlash for omitting HIV/AIDS from the G8/G20 meetings last month reports the Globe and Mail. Montaner is also upset because Canada has reduced contributions to fighting the epidemic.
"My country's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, was invited to be a plenary speaker and he refused." Montaner also said, "He's not here because he's afraid to confront the deficit the G8 left on the table. I cannot hide my profound disappointment and deep frustration with the recently concluded G8/G20 meetings in Canada."
At IAC, The World Care Council (WCC) hopes to raise awareness around Arash Alaei and Kamiar Alaei, two AIDS physicians and brothers, who were jailed in Iran in 2008. WCC is asking that presenters either open with or end with special WCC-created slides. Theses slides contain pictures of the men's faces with the slogan "Iran Free The Docs Org: Treating AIDS is Not a Crime."
WCC's website states: The physicians, who are brothers, were held in Tehran's notorious Evin prison for over six months without charges or trial. On December 31, 2008, a one-day, closed-door trial was held, in which the brothers were tried as conspirators working with an "enemy government" to overthrow the government of Iran. They were also tried at that time on unspecified other charges which neither they nor their lawyer were allowed to know, see the evidence of, or address.
On January 19, 2009, the Doctors Alaei were convicted and sentenced under charges of being in "communications with an enemy government" and "seeking to overthrow the Iranian government under article 508 of Iran's Islamic Penal Code". Kamiar was sentenced to three years and Arash was sentenced to six. The Alaeis' crime: traveling the world and liaising with health workers across the globe to find solutions to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The government used the doctors' travel to international AIDS conferences as a basis for this charge ? a dangerous conflation of public health diplomacy with treason that will harm Iran's ability to be a worldwide medical leader and protect its people from disease and death.
WCC also asks that people sign their petition.