Published: 5 June 2017

AIDS 2014: Under the Baobab

HIV Australia | Vol. 12 No. 2 | July 2014

By Jill Sergeant and Finn O’Keefe

The African Diaspora Networking Zone at AIDS 2014 in Melbourne has been organised by the Multicultural Health and Support Service (MHSS) in collaboration with the African Black Diaspora Global Network on HIV/AIDS (ABDGN) and the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisation’s (AFAO’s) African Reference Group.

Kwaku Adomaku, the Manager of the ABDGN and representative on the African Diaspora Networking Zone working group, has coordinated ABDGN’s activities at the last three International AIDS conferences; in Mexico city (2008), Vienna (2010) and Washington (2012).

Kwaku spoke to HIV Australia about his hopes for this important space at AIDS 2014.

‘This networking zone is going to be a hub of activity and knowledge-sharing focused on African and Black diaspora (ABD) populations locally and around the globe,’ Kwaku Adomako explains.

‘The local energy and excitement of the Global Village will also result in spontaneous and unplanned experiences and connections that will inspire and recharge our commitment to ensuring the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on ABD populations is recognised as a global issue that requires immediate action.’

The networking zone will include speakers from the Caribbean, USA, Canada, European Union, New Zealand, and Australia, discussing a wide range of issues including treatment advocacy, community HIV testing initiatives, and youth prevention initiatives.

Kwaku says that the zone will provide a much-needed space for the global ABD community to come together to highlight issues relevant to communities and their local context, which will help bring a broad range of issues affecting ABD populations to the fore throughout the entire conference.

‘My hope is that the recognition of ABD as a key vulnerable population is a common thread throughout the sessions and activities. This recognition is critical in supporting improved health surveillance, more enabling social and legal environments for ABD, greater protection of human rights, and reduced vulnerabilities across the determinants of health.’

In addition to participating in the activities taking place in the networking zone, ABDGN is also leading the coordination of the ABD Regional Session – Stepping Up from Vulnerability to Opportunity: HIV and AIDS in the Global Context of African and Black Migrant and Diaspora Populations, taking place on Tuesday 22 July from 11–12.30pm.

Kwaku says that this will be a key session bringing issues affecting African Black Diaspora populations to the forefront of the global dialogues taking place at AIDS 2014.

‘We are very excited to be coordinating this for a second time and we intend to ensure that this regional session, which began at AIDS 2012, becomes a permanent feature of the International AIDS Conferences,’ Kwaku says.

‘We are also excited to share our plans for a Diaspora Declaration,1a unifying call to action that brings together the most recent evidenced-based knowledge and resources to inform the development of a global ABD framework that provides recommendations for research, policy, advocacy and programming that is integrated, grassroots, adaptable and sustainable. Activities related to the declaration will be highlighted at the Regional Session.

‘This year’s conference theme, Stepping up the Pace, for me means that we can no longer be complacent. While migration and population mobility are international issues, there is a local dimension too. In the context of HIV/ AIDS our communities often remain under-serviced, under-resourced, and unheard.

‘We are at a crossroads, where we can combine our individual efforts to galvanise a global movement that recognises that despite the disparities between us, we share (many) strengths. The best way to effect change now is to step up our pace, and in solidarity show the global community that we are engaged, passionate and eager to make a real difference in changing the epidemic.’

See also

Full interview with Kwaku Adomaku on the AFAO blog

Jill Sergeant is Project Officer at AFAO.

Finn O’Keefe is Communications Officer at AFAO and an editor of HIV Australia.


1 The Diaspora Declaration: A Global HIV/AIDS Agenda for African/Black/Caribbean Diaspora Populations is a project bringing together Canadian and international researchers, community members, advocates and programmatic specialists to develop an HIV/AIDS Diaspora Declaration (DD) for African/Black/Caribbean Diaspora and migrant populations.