Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Press Release from AIDS 2006 Conference

The banner from

On August 17, activists from the Deaf community and the community of people living with disabilties came together for a press conference on the issues of HIV/AIDS. People from Africa, North America and Latin America shared stories about how they were helping build programs fighting HIV/AIDS in Deaf communities and communities of people living with disabilities around the world. Although there is still far to go, there were many articulate advocates in the fight who described their work in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Canada, the United States and elsewhere. I hope to provide short reviews of these biographies as well as profiles of leaders in the upcoming months but first wanted to post our press release on the subject.

First released August 17, 2006, AIDS 2006, Toronto, Canada

The International AIDS Society and World Federation of the Deaf must recognize and act upon the HIV/AIDS crisis among people with disabilities including Deaf people globally.

• Deaf People are as or more likely to be HIV+ as hearing people but little information is kept on the problem and few resources are being directed towards prevention, testing or treatments for Deaf people.
• 2003 statistics from Maryland (US) show Maryland Deaf people to be almost 11 times more likely to be HIV+ as hearing people (Schmaling & Monaghan 2006)
• Statistics from Kenya show that Kenyan Deaf people have a similar incidence of HIV (7%) to the hearing population (Taegtmeyer, Henderson, Angala, Ngare 2006)
• Deaf children in particular are at risk because of high rates of sexual and physical abuse of Deaf children related to the inaccessibility of information (J of Am Deafness and Rehab Assn 1992).
• People living with disabilities in general are often at risk for abuse. For example, women with disabilities in Southern Africa are at a higher risk of rape than other women (Groce 2005).
• Deaf people and people living with disabilities were not recognized as at risk at the AIDS 2006 convention, in the 2005 UNAIDS report, or in most global discussions of HIV/AIDS. No Key Speakers at AIDS 2006 on Deaf, hard-of-hearing, or disability issues.
• Few sign language interpreters were available and the conference was unaccessible for people with physical and visual disabilities.

• HIV/AIDS is a serious problem in Deaf communities and should be recognized as such. We need more information. Health departments should keep statistics on the hearing status (hearing, hard of hearing and deaf) for HIV programs and testing.
• Need more money and resources for Deaf HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs.
• Deaf communities must be part of all phases of design and implementation of programs.
• Materials for Deaf people need to be in sign language or have lots of pictures.
• Qualified, sensitive and appropriately trained interpreters provide lifelines to HIV services and treatments presented only in spoken or written language.
• Peer-to-peer education works. We need many more programs.
• IAS and other international organizations must include of people with disabilities and Deaf people in all aspects of the planning and execution of their conferences and programs.

Groce, N. (2005) Lancet
Schmaling, C., & Monaghan, L. (Eds.). (2006) HIV/AIDS and Deaf Communities. Coleford: Douglas McLean. [Deaf Worlds Focussed Edition, Vol. 22 (1).] Available at:
Taegtmeyer, M, Henderson. K, Angala. P, Ngare, C (2006) Responding to the signs: A voluntary counselling and testing programme for the Deaf in Kenya. AIDS 2006 Poster MOPE0876.