By Tyrone Hall, Vienna Youth Force Youth Journalist and Graduate Student at Clark University, United States
Thousands of delegates attending the XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010) and local residents marched last night to call for human rights to be included as a fundamental component of efforts to prevent new infections and provide treatment for people living with HIV.
The march echoed the theme of the conference, Rights Here, Right Now, through chants, vuvuzelas and singing of some well-coined phrases and tunes. The march culminated in a concert laced with spirited speeches and a captivating performance by Annie Lennox.
|(c)IAS/Steve Forrest/Workers' Photos
The messages echoed during the march were varied but connected by one common cause: justice for all. Some groups called for greater respect to be extended to members of the LGBT community in parts of the world where stigma has made the fight against AIDS nearly impossible, particularly among men who have sex with men. Other groups called for the examination of the rights of women in the context of HIV, especially in light of the positive microbicide trial results released Monday. Several groups also called for greater resources to be put into treatment and programmes for drug users.
One of the Vienna Youth Force’s leading voices, Aram Barra, energized the delegates by reminding them that “more than ever, young people all around the world are dying of AIDS because of dehumanizing and criminalizing situations which must be stopped.” Annie Lennox later amplified the energy that Aram stirred by calling on the Austrian government to contribute more money to the global fight against AIDS. The performer told the gathering that “the city of Vienna alone will make more than €45 million” from hosting the conference.
The march and rally ended successfully and the masters of ceremonies thanked the Austrian government for respecting the delegates’ right to protest meaningfully and peacefully. More photos available here.