Day Four: The Diaspora

| July 27, 2012
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Day Four: The Diaspora

By Craig Washington

Wednesday did not get off to an easy start. It took me thirty minutes to find my wallet wedged underneath my blue sneaker which of course made me forty-five minutes late to my first session. By the time I had reached session room 5 I had missed two of the five presenters. This was the session on HIV and AIDS in the context of the African Diaspora. According to the session description, an estimated 140 million people of African descent live outside of Africa. Whether clustered or scattered among larger groups or as densely populated majorities, black diasporic peoples face higher HIV infection rates, and seroprevalance along with a host of other health and social justice disparities. I had hoped to gain a more concrete way of conceptualizing black diaspora and HIV in terms of the myriad of political, cultural, social and epidemiological contexts.

I was excited to learn about the African Black Diaspora Global Network on HIV and AIDS. Launched at the 16th annual International AIDS Conference, the Network operates to address the concerns of African and black migrant populations and coordinate a global response. S. Mubawa is from Australia and she spoke about the work of the Network in advocating for increased research among ABD (African Black Diaspora) populations, particularly more research on migrant patters, monitoring migrant, immigrant and refugee (MIR) access and utilization of services, and more. From the panel, we also heard from Marvelous Muckenge from Toronto, CA. She elaborated about the challenges migrant women of African descent who are diagnosed with HIV. I had never considered how daunting it must be to come from a non-Western society to a Western nation where you may not know anyone, you may or may not speak English, and you have got to find employment. Many women experience rape, other forms of violence and abuse, lose or are separated from their loved ones.  How probable is it that a woman facing this maze of decisions and task, newly diagnosed with HIV will prioritize seeking care?

While I didn’t get to hear from all of the presenters I got an education yesterday. Session moderator Mary Winifred Sseruma recommended that I check out the Global Village Black Diaspora networking zone to find out more about the ABDGN and work others are doing to establish greater support and exchange among our peoples.

Craig Washington is a writer, community organizer and HIV prevention programs manager living in Atlanta. He has been HIV+ for more than 25 years. He can be reached at [email protected].

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Category: HIV Prevention, Human Rights & Social Justice, Treatment Access

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