By Eric Fleutelot, Deputy CEO, International, Sidaction
From March 25th-28th, Geneva will host the 6th Francophone Conference on HIV-AIDS: www.vihgeneve2012.com
It is estimated, according to the WHO, that 4 million of people live with HIV in francophone countries. Most of them, of course, live in West and Central Africa. The fight against HIV in French-speaking countries is very dynamic, but it’s a fact that the ART coverage rate in those countries are, in average, lower than in other parts of Africa, and there are a lot of disparities, between Rwanda with a coverage rate of 80% and the République Démocratique du Congo with only 12%.
During 4 days, more than 1 200 individuals meet in Geneva, to present research and programs. It is a rare opportunity, at an international level, to do presentations, discussions and debates in French, our common language. The individuals who are committed to the fight against HIV are, most of the time, forgotten in bigger international conferences and they are less likely to be invited or consulted by international institutions. Because English is considered as the scientific language, francophone researchers are also less likely to have papers or abstracts accepted, most of the time due to language skills limitations.
During the past francophone conferences -it’s going to be the case again in Geneva- it is really amazing to see the dynamism and the strength of local, national and international francophone responses and implementers.
But once again, in 2012, our francophone community will not be totally inclusive. Two years ago, very few Haitians were able to join the 5th conference in Casablanca, Morocco. Because of the coup in Mali, our Malian colleagues can’t travel this year and we will miss a dozen of wonderful oral presentations that were selected by the Scientific Program Committee. The current political and social situation in many francophone countries (like Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, in the Great Lakes region…) is endangering the fight against HIV.
On our way to AIDS 2012, there is hope that more francophone delegates will attend the conference in Washington D.C.; for this purpose, Sidaction, as an international civil society partner, decided to roll out, together with ALCS in Morocco and ITPC Mena (Middle East and North Africa), an ambitious outreach program. To get involved or to subscribe to our only in French newsletter, just click on the following link : http://www.sidaction.org/ewb_pages/c/conference-washington-2012.php