The Global Health Institute (GHI) at AUB hosted the third high-level consultation on “HIV in Conservative Social Settings.” The two-day high-level meeting was co-organized with two global leading organizations in the fight against HIV/AIDS: the International AIDS Society (IAS) and the Global Institute for Health and Human Rights (GIHHR) at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany.
With the IAS leading collective action on global HIV response and the GIHHR as an academic unit to advance the understanding and protection of health and human rights, the meeting comprised a series of keynote presentations, panel discussions, and working groups led by global experts on HIV, including key HIV service providers, community advocates, and policy makers. Through GHI, experts were provided a platform to discuss the topic of HIV from cultural, social, religious, and governmental perspectives, with an emphasis on conservative settings and vulnerable populations including refugees.
More than 60 attendees of different professional backgrounds participated in the closed experts meeting, representing various sectors including health ministries, non-governmental organizations, educational organizations, religious institutions, and funding agencies. Discussions on how to build sustainable health systems and supportive communities for people living with HIV (PLWH) in conservative settings were highly contextualized through the experience and expertise of participants from low and middle-income countries, including Somalia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Kazakhstan, Iran, Morocco, Algeria, and Nigeria.
“The intersection of HIV and human rights is of great relevance to many regions of the world, including the Arab region. The challenge of a sustainable response to HIV is paramount given limited resources that are not necessarily only financial” said Dr. Shadi Saleh, founding director of GHI. He added “I am confident that the global health community would be very interested in the proceedings from this high-level meeting, given the cadre of international HIV/AIDS experts participating.”
Co-founders of the GIHHR at SUNY at Albany, Drs. Arash and Kamiar Alaei, said that discussions about HIV/AIDS should go beyond medical ones to also involve human rights, access to services, and social support for the PLWH, equity, and equality.
“We are honored to have the Global Health Institute at the American University of Beirut as our partner in this meeting and we envision stressing on the leading role that GHI plays as a regional convening space for global HIV experts,” they stated.
Many IAS staff members were present in the meeting and took part in the deliberations. “IAS is really excited about the collaborative efforts that have been invested in this high-level meeting that are crucial to set the top priority areas to be discussed during the 22nd International AIDS Conference that will be held in Amsterdam this coming July, 2018,” said Kevin Osborne, director of HIV advocacy and programs at the IAS in Geneva. “The meeting is a key milestone to showcase some of the issues worth addressing such as the human rights, societal, cultural, and religious aspects of the discussions about HIV/AIDS.”
The meeting was concluded by an action plan to be presented at the International AIDS Conference to be held July 23-27, 2018.