A Conference for all? Travel Ban Threatens IAC 2012

Published: August 26, 2010

With the 2010 International AIDS Conference barely a month behind us, controversy is already brewing over who will—and won’t—be able to attend the conference when it hits Washington, D.C. in 2012.

At the closing of this year’s conference, President Obama delivered an enthusiastic video message, welcoming “all” delegates to the capital in 2012. In reality, however, strict U.S. travel regulations ban two groups heavily impacted by HIV—sex workers and drugs users. The restrictions, if left unchanged, threaten the conference’s efficacy as a forum for all, further disenfranchising two of the major populations it claims to serve.

Earlier this month, four human rights organizations sent a letter to Dr. Elly Katabira, president of the International AIDS Society, requesting that the conference be moved out of the U.S. Meanwhile, the Conference Coordinating Committee, the group charged with planning the event, has created a working group that will meet in September to tackle visa policies. While the committee has several options for approaching this issue, none seem to ensure full participation while keeping the conference in the U.S. capital.

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