For some of the thousands of people who will convene in Mexico City next week for the 17th International AIDS Conference, the stigma that surrounds HIV/AIDS in their home countries means attending it carries personal risks. Advertisement
"Many of those who are coming have told their work or families that they are going on vacation," said Manuel da Quinta of UNAIDS. "They're afraid of saying they're taking part in an AIDS conference."
Around 2,500 of the 22,000 people expected at the conference, being staged for the first time in Latin America, have said they are HIV-positive, but organizers believe many more have declined to declare their status. Da Quinta, from Portugal, said he will check with participants to see whether they wish to speak to the media during the meeting. HIV/AIDS is a difficult subject to broach in Latin America, he said. "Everything is shameful here. It's shameful to be a homosexual, a prostitute, to have AIDS," he added.
Media coverage of the conference will be restricted, with participants wearing different-colored stickers to indicate whether or not they will accept being photographed or filmed, organizers said. Attendees who do agree to speak to the media may request that their interviews not be broadcast in their home countries.
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