the organizers of the XVI International AIDS Conference which will take place in Toronto
between the 13th and 18th of August, the list of 20,000 participants
expected to attend the event includes former presidents Mary Robinson of Ireland and Bill
Clinton of the United States, HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit from Norway, Bill and Melinda
Gates and Richard Gere. The scientific programme of the meeting will be particularly
strong and will trace new trends in basic and clinical research, epidemiology, social
science and policy. Out of the record number of nearly 13,000 abstracts submitted, over
4,500 have been selected for presentation: 366 as oral presentations, 199 as poster
discussion and 4,000 as poster exhibition. Apart from the presentation of the latest
research, the conference will provide the delegates with an opportunity to explore how
best to prevent HIV and provide access to treatment and care. In a number of sessions, the
conference will address inter alia empowering women and girls as a major priority for an
effective response to the epidemic. It also includes sessions on the importance of
women’s reproductive health and rights, including the rights of sex workers. The newly
designed key challenge sessions will facilitate the exchange of information and sharing of
experiences to address the following challenges:
• accelerating research to end the epidemic;
• expanding and sustaining human resources to increase prevention and treatment ;
• intensifying the involvement of affected communities;
• building new leadership.
organizers reported that two million USD have been allocated for an International
Scholarship Program which will allow 815 applicants out of 16,000 who applied to take part
in the gathering. Most of them are from resource-limited countries. However, in some cases
people who had been granted scholarships by the organizers have been denied Canadian
visas. The problems have been experienced by applicants, some of whom are living with
AIDS, from Nepal, Nigeria, India, South Africa, Viet Nam, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Fiji.
The International AIDS Society is trying to solve these existing problems and prevent
others from occurring by holding emergency meetings with Canadian officials.
More information on the conference schedule, including satellite sessions and affiliated
events is available at: www.aids2006.org
Bulgaria: Retrial of medical workers accused of infecting
Libyan children with HIV. Five
Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian physician plead not guilty to the charge of infecting
Libyan children with HIV. They claim that they were forced to confess by Libyan officers
who used psychological torture measures against them during the interrogations. The
medical workers were sentenced to death by firing squad in May 2004, but the Libyan
Supreme Court overturned the convictions in December 2005 and ordered the retrial in the
lower court. The retrial began in May. The attorneys for the accused say that the June
testimony of Libyan medical experts was inaccurate and contradicted forensic evidence.
They requested that international HIV/AIDS experts be allowed to testify at the retrial.
In 2005, Luc Montagnier, the co-discoverer of HIV, testified that HIV was present at the
hospital where the defendants were employed prior to their arrival.
Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report
Republic: Decreasing sale of condoms. The decreasing fear of HIV infection and the popularity of
modern contraception seems to be the reason for the drop in the sale of condoms in the
Czech Republic. According to the experts, 54 percent of Czechs have had unsafe sex which
places the country 12th in the ranking of 41 states. Czechs have become less
cautious about HIV/AIDS than at the beginning of the 1990s since the dramatic forecasts
concerning the spread of the epidemic proved to be wrong. In the years 1985-2005, 827
HIV-positive people were registered. 118 of them died.
Reproductive health project for youth. In June, the Inter European Parliamentary Forum on Population and
Development (IEPFP), UNFPA and the EU launched a three year project to promote youth
reproductive health in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The project, entitled Reproductive
Health Initiative for Youth in the South Caucasus, is a large scale initiative aimed at
young people aged 15-24. It is designed to reach at least 50 percent of the region’s
2,860,000 youth. With the three year budget of 2,9 million Euros, the project aims at
empowering young people to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies, STIs (including
HIV) and gender based violence by providing them with access to comprehensive youth
friendly SRH services and products.
Network and Media: Integration and Mutual Empowerment - Fourth International
Conference of Journalists. The
meeting took place on 1-3 July, 2006 in Tbilisi, Georgia. The event was organized by
Gender Media Caucasus Journalists Association.
The conference focused on the issues of effective cooperation between the media and local
gender networks. The participants were journalists working on gender problems as well as
non-governmental sector activists working in cooperation with the media.
The goals of the conference were to analyze cooperation between the networks and media of
the post-soviet region, and to work out future joint ac
tions. Elwira Chrusciel represented the ASTRA Bulletin crew during this meeting.
the initiative to stricken the abortion law overturned. The parliament of Kyrgyz Republic decided that
the initiative of the Ombudsman to restrict abortion law is unjustified. The proposal
aimed at introducing criminal liability for women and medical workers terminating 12-22
week pregnancies for social reasons. The initiative was strongly opposed by Reproductive
Health Alliance and other NGOs of Kyrgyzstan, who in response initiated an advocacy
program for women’s right to abortion. ASTRA Network sent a letter to Kyrgyz
Republic’s Representatives expressing concern caused by the proposed repressive
sanctions. The letter also conveyed confidence that the President of Kyrgyz Republic,
Members of the Parliament, and the Government will not allow the adoption of the
Ombudsman’s proposition because it violates fundamental human rights and contradicts
both national and international legislation.
Reproductive Health Alliance, Kyrgyzstan; http://www.astra.org.pl/kyrgyz_abortion.pdf
Abortion case admissible. The
European Court of Human Rights declared the case of Tysiac v. Poland admissible. The Court
stated that the application "raises serious issues of fact and law under the
Convention, the determination of which requires an examination of the merits." Alicja
Tysi¹c, now awaiting the Court’s decision, was refused abortion although the pregnancy
could severely damage her eyesight. Polish law allows the termination of pregnancy if it
puts the woman’s health or life at risk.
Federation for Women and Family Planning
ministry of education against the EC human rights manual. Roman Giertych, the minister of education and
the leader of the ultra-conservative party, League of Polish Families, dismissed the
director of the Center for the Professional Training of Teachers for publishing and
promoting the official manual of the European Council aimed at preparing young people to
participate in the life of civil society and democratic state. One of the reasons Giertych
found the book unacceptable was that it recognized gay and lesbian rights. Although his
decision has raised protests from teachers, youth and civil society organizations, the
minister has not changed it.
Federation for Women and Family Planning
granted observatory status. ASTRA –
Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health and
Rights has been accepted to be an observer at the HIV/AIDS Civil Society Forum of the
European Commission for the term until the end of August, 2007. ASTRA
Finland: Ban on the purchase of sex services. In June, Finnish parliament approved a law partially banning the purchase
of sex services. Under the new law, paying for sex services of an individual who is a
victim of human trafficking or pimping carries a maximum penalty of six months
imprisonment. The parliament rejected the draft law criminalizing all purchase of sex
services as well as the bill banning the sale of sexual services.
Ireland: The Alliance for Choice,
a national grassroots organization, has called for abortion to be
legalized in Ireland after statistics had been
published by the British Department of Health. The data indicate that each day, 15 Irish
women travel to Britain to have an abortion. In 2005, 5,585 women from Ireland terminated
their pregnancy in Great Britain.
IPPF: New executive
director. Dr. Gill Greer, the
executive director of the Family Planning Association of New Zealand, has been appointed
the new Director-General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). Dr.
Greer will be taking up her post based at IPPF’s London office in September, 2006
following the retirement of current Director-General, Dr. Steven Sinding.
European Union: Discrimination
against Roma Women. In a report adopted in June,
the European Parliament called for measures to combat the extreme levels of multiple
discrimination faced by Roma women. Roma women are among the most vulnerable people in
Europe. The Parliament urges the Member States, among other issues of concern, to prevent
and outlaw coercive sterilization, provide redress for such abuse, promote family planning
and alternatives to early marriage. It also calls for eliminating racially segregated
maternity wards, measures to help victims of domestic violence and vigilance regarding the
trafficking of Roma women. According to the Parliament, the situation of Roma women should
be a key criterion for evaluating states of readiness for accession to the EU.
European Court of Human Rights:
Abortion case rejected. The
case D. v. Ireland that could challenge the ban on abortion in Ireland has been declared
inadmissible by the European Court of Human Rights on the ground that the applicant had
not exhausted domestic remedies since she had not brought the case to the Irish courts.
The case was brought before the ECHR by a woman who was pregnant with twins in 2002. After
the antenatal tests indicated that one fetus died in the womb and the second had a fatal
chromosomal abnormality -Trisomy 18, or Edward’s Syndrome - she decided to terminate the
pregnancy. She did not seek legal advice on her eligibility for abortion in Ireland and
instead obtained an abortion in the UK. Abortion is allowed in Ireland only in the case of
“a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother”. The applicant claimed that
the lack of abortion services in the case of lethal fetal abnormality and the present law
infringe on her rights. The Irish Family Planning Association who lodged an amicus brief
in support of the complaint in 2005, said that the ECHR declaration was disappointing.
IFPA informed the media that it facilitated the complaint of three women living in Ireland
who were challenging abortion restrictions. According to IFPA, the basis of their
complaint is significantly different from that made by ‘D’ and ECHR decision is
unlikely to have implication on it.
Court of Justice of the European Communities: Medical
treatment abroad in EU states. On May 16, in the
case of Ivonne Watts v. Bedford Primary Care Trust and Secretary of State for Health, the
Court of Justice ruled that the patient’s national health services should reimburse
her/him for the cost of hospital treatment provided in another member state even when the
service is provided for free in the country of residence. According to the Court’s
judgment, the patient can be refused authorization to receive treatment abroad if the
health insurance fund “shows that the waiting time does not exceed the medically
acceptable period having regard to the patient’s condition and clinical needs.” The
Court’s judgment may prove important for women in EU states who are denied access to
abortion services to which they are entitled within the legally defined timeframe.
Court of Justice of EC: www.curia.europa.eu/en/actu/communiques/cp06/aff/cp060042en.pdf
Science: Condom use
lowers the risk of HPV-related disease. A new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine reports
that women whose partners always use condoms are 70 percent less likely to acquire HPV
infection than women whose partners use condoms less than 5 percent of the time. In almost
all cases, cervical cancer is caused by HPV. The study was performed by researchers from
the University of Washington. It provides evidence that condoms are effective in reducing
the risk of HPV. Until this study, solid evidence proved that condoms prevent pregnancy,
HIV infections and, in the case of men, gonorrhea.
Science: Womb transplants. According to scientists from Sahlgrenska Academy in
Gothenburg, Sweden, womb transplant in humans should be possible within five years.
Scientists have recently succeeded in transplanting uteruses in sheep. They claim that in
future the best womb donor would be the recipient’s mother or older sister in order to
minimize the risk of immune rejection.
European Session 2006.
The International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC)
and the European AIDS Clinical Society (EACS) will
co-host the third annual IAPAC European Sessions in Budapest. They will take place on
12-13 October 2006. This year's Sessions include: implications of a decade of highly active
antiretroviral therapy (HAART), navigating ARV drug resistance, sociobehavioural Aspects
of HIV Care and emerging issues in HIV Care.
To see the full program and outstanding faculty presenters, visit the IAPAC
Web site, www.iapac.org
7th Congress of FIAPAC. International Federation of Professional
Abortion and Contraception Associates organizes its 7th annual congress,
“Freedom and rights in reproductive heath”. The conference will take place on 13/14
October 2006 in Rome, Italy. The preliminary program of the meeting is available at: http://www.fiapac.org/e/RomePrelProgr2.html
World Youth Forum. The annual World Youth Forum (WYF), which will
bring together 140 young persons from over 35 countries will take place from 10-15 August
in Bucharest, Romania. More information is available at: www.youth-policies.org
Women on Web:
the on-line abortion help service for women living in countries where access to safe
abortion services is restricted.
The website is: www.womenonweb.org
Reproductive Health and Human Rights:
Integrating Medicine, Ethics and Law, by Rebecca J. Cook, Bernard M. Dickens and Mahmoud F. Fathalla (Oxford
University Press, 2003, 554pp.) is now available in French, Spanish, Portuguese and
Chinese translations, and forthcoming in Arabic. The book is designed to equip
health care providers and administrators to integrate ethical, legal, and human rights
principles in protection and promotion of reproductive health, and to inform lawyers
and women's health advocates about aspects of medicine and health care systems that
affect reproduction. More information and updates to the book are available at:
unsafe abortion and the consequences: priorities for research and action, the book edited by Ina K.
Warriner and Iqbal Shah, is now available for free download online from: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/2006/07/10/PreventingUnsafeAbortion.pdf
Voice. Report on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Central and Eastern
Europe and Balkan Countries published ASTRA Youth Group is now available. Hard copies can
be obtained from ASTRA secretariat. The electronic version is available at: http://www.astra.org.pl/youth_report.pdf
Woman-centered abortion care: Reference
manual. The manual is now
available in Spanish. It is designed to be used by participants during individual and
group-based courses and also as a reference manual to help participants refresh and
strengthen their skills. Composed of 13 modules, it brings a new perspective to
abortion-care training and service delivery. Features include: a woman's rights approach
to abortion care; unique considerations for special populations, including adolescents and
survivors of sexual violence; guidance for use of both manual vacuum aspiration and
medication-abortion technologies; and recommendations for monitoring services and making
linkages to communities. This publication is not available online. To order a hard copy,
please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org