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International indigenous peoples and HIV/AIDS: policy and practice implications of work-to-date
T. Prentice1, R. Jackson2,3, T. Myers3
Issues: Indigenous peoples globally are over-represented in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Despite the astonishing diversity between and among them, indigenous peoples share a common experience of poverty, marginalization, and colonization that renders them acutely vulnerable to HIV. Indigenous peoples working globally have designed and delivered several community-driven initiatives to address their common concerns. However, the global epidemic of HIV among indigenous peoples continues to attract little attention domestically or internationally.
Description: With support from Health Canada, this project analyzed previous international indigenous activities, discussions, and decisions related to HIV/AIDS and identified future priorities for action. An International Advisory Committee provided guidance in all areas, including identifying key documents for review, and interview participants. The document review (n=26) focused on three key events identified by the Advisory Committee
and the global indigenous policy context. Interview participants (n=10) were chosen for their experience organizing or participating in international events related to indigenous peoples and HIV/AIDS.
Lessons learned: Colonization is a key feature of many indigenous peoples’ experiences with HIV/AIDS and strategies to address its damaging legacy must be central to a coordinated international response. International policy directives and indigenous peoples’ work-to-date suggest that supporting indigenous-driven HIV/AIDS initiatives are essential to addressing HIV among indigenous peoples. Adopting international human rights
instruments into policy and practice, including indigenous knowledges, and recognizing the diversity between and among indigenous peoples’ and their socio-cultural contexts are equally important.
Next steps: The International Indigenous Working Group on HIV/AIDS has been formed as a direct result of indigenous community-driven initiatives with funding support from the Canadian government. The group is comprised of indigenous representatives from eight countries and is currently developing a five-year strategic action plan to address issues of common concern for its member countries. Further funding and support from the
international community is required to continue its work beyond 2011.