HIV-Positive Women Activists in Latin America Stand Tall

by Diego Cevallos
MEXICO CITY, May 11 (IPS) – Patricia Pérez, an activist from Argentina who was diagnosed HIV-positive in 1986, has been nominated for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for her activism on behalf of women living with the AIDS virus. But her case is an exception to the rule.

Most Latin American women who contract HIV hide their status for fear of rejection, or experience veiled or open discrimination. And the number of HIV-positive women is rising sharply.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), three years ago there were seven or eight men with HIV/AIDS in Latin America for every woman with the virus. But today the ratio is three to one.

Pérez, the regional representative of the non-governmental International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS in Latin America (ICW Latina), has raised her voice, like other activists, to warn about the increasing feminisation of the AIDS pandemic.

But above all these women advocate the right of women living with HIV/AIDS to speak out freely and without fear.

“I never thought that 20 years after being diagnosed with HIV, I would be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. But this is a recognition of the work of all of us,” said Pérez in Mexico, before a mainly female audience who applauded enthusiastically.

Pérez, who is on familiar terms with government authorities and United Nations officials, is taking part in a meeting of 25 leaders and HIV-positive women activists from several countries being held in Mexico from Tuesday to Friday.

The participants are discussing possible strategies for the 17th International AIDS Conference, which will be held in Mexico in August 2008…

Read the rest of this article at www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=37705 


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