I have learned so much from the wisdom and bravery of the Leaders of the International Indigenous Working Group on HIV & AIDS (IIWGHA).

International Indigenous leaders in the HIV and AIDS community come from different corners of the world, yet exemplify a shared heart, shared mind, and shared passion for working in the joint fight against HIV and AIDS.  We really have come a long way and yet in many ways we are just beginning to make an impact in the world for Indigenous Peoples and HIV.


The International Indigenous Strategic Plan on HIV and AIDS for Indigenous Peoples and Communities from 2011-2017 http://www.iiwgha.org/strategy/ will sunset at the end of this year. The IIWGHA Leaders have looked back and evaluated their work and are now finalizing the next Strategic Plan. On World AIDS Day, December 1st, 2017 a new version of the Strategic Plan will be released.

IIWGHA has developed strong relationships with Indigenous AIDS service organizations (ASOs) in many countries, with other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at the local, national and international levels. Some of our allies include, the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO), the Interagency Coalition on AIDS & Development (ICAD), the Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+), UNAIDS, the International AIDS Society (IAS) and the International Community of Women living with HIV (ICW), to name just a few.

Our list of allies continues to grow as we get the word out about who we are and what we need.


A delegation of IIWGHA Leaders recently made a big splash at the 16th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in New York City at the end of April, 2017. A lot was accomplished and Indigenous Peoples sat up and listened to what we had to say about HIV.

The IIWGHA delegation made an Intervention on the floor which lead to a recommendation in the final report https://undocs.org/en/E/2017/43 which read: (Paragraph 42) The Permanent Forum recommends that the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Peoples’ Issues, sponsor an expert group meeting on HIV/AIDS by 2019, which would include the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, to analyze the sociocultural and economic determinants of health for HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment in indigenous communities, with the Forum’s collaboration, in order to ensure the realization of target 3.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.


The IIWGHA Delegation also hosted a side event at the UNPFII called “People of the Land and HIV” where we launched a bold new 10-Point Statement and announced the creation of the new International Indigenous HIV & AIDS Community (IIHAC), a NGO registered in Canada to partner with IIWGHA and move the agenda forward.

For more than three decades, Indigenous leaders from around the world have been on a path towards the formation of the International Indigenous HIV and AIDS Community (IIHAC) whose mission is to create an international united voice for Indigenous communities responding to HIV and AIDS. The 10-point statement has been developed by IIHAC and IIWGHA. It’s intended to be used by Indigenous organizations and communities around the world as a response to HIV and in advocacy related impacts experienced by Indigenous peoples.

IIWGHA Coordinator, Trevor Stratton, continues to hold the seat of NGO Delegate, North America on the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB). Board meetings take place in June and December. Trevor dedicates 10 hours per week for the work of the NGO Delegation on the UNAIDS PCB.

José Yac, IIWGHA Leader from Guatemala recently participated in the 40th UNAIDS PCB in June of 2017, speaking on a panel for the Thematic Segment titled – “HIV prevention 2020: a global partnership for delivery”. It is very rare that an Indigenous person get the opportunity to convey to the UNAIDS PCB that Indigenous Peoples have been left behind in the world’s response to HIV and AIDS. José explained the importance leveraging international human rights mechanisms like the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the International Labor Organization’s Convention 169 when working with Indigenous Peoples and HIV.


For over a year, the IIWGHA Research Committee has been working to provide general guidelines that help in designing and implementing research projects on HIV and AIDS with Indigenous peoples. Despite limitations on the availability of reliable information about HIV and AIDS for Indigenous peoples, the existing surveillance and some research data show a high prevalence of HIV among Indigenous peoples, in both wealthy and poor countries.

This project aims to provide guidelines to assess the application of ethical principles and the main methodological approaches in developing research projects with Indigenous peoples, provide an overall framework to facilitate the involvement and full participation of Indigenous peoples in HIV research and offer a model of research design for HIV research projects with Indigenous peoples. This protocol document will be launched at the Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN) at the end of September in Calgary, Canada.


Indigenous Peoples, researchers, and policy makers gathered in Ottawa, Canada from July 10-12, 2017 to develop recommendations to strengthen and align monitoring and evaluation systems to track results across the continuum of care. See a related CBC article here: http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/ottawa/indigenous-hiv-gathering-ottawa-1.4199629

This initiative responds to the need for documenting and sharing of domestic and international best and promising practices/approaches that demonstrate results toward meeting global HIV, TB, and hepatitis C reduction targets.  It will provide opportunities for Indigenous Peoples, researchers, and policy makers to develop recommendations to strengthen and align monitoring and evaluation systems to track results across the continuum of care.

In other news, Marama Mullen, Chairperson of IIHAC, is an active member of the Conference Coordinating Committee of the International AIDS Conference (IAC); AIDS 2018 to take place in Amsterdam, Netherlands in July of 2018.


Look for us at www.aids2018.org

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