International Indigenous Working Group on HIV & AIDS
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The overall goal of the IIWGHA is to strengthen the collaborations and partnerships between International Indigenous communities and stakeholders in the fight against HIV and AIDS, through networking and sharing of wise practices, and promoting culturally appropriate knowledge transfer.
It is now widely recognized that Aboriginal and Indigenous peoples share particular vulnerabilities to acquiring HIV and AIDS. These vulnerabilities include “poverty, marginalization, lack of political and social power, fragmentation of family and community relationships, geographical isolation, low literacy rates, poor general health, limited access to health care, drug use/injection, and low community and individual self esteem “(UNAIDS, 2006 in Health Canada, 2009). As a result, indigenous peoples are over represented in the HIV epidemic, in Canada and around the world. Despite this over-representation, most governments have paid little attention to the relationship between Indigenous peoples and HIV and Aboriginal and Indigenous peoples have had limited opportunity to come together to discuss their common issues, to support each other, and to share best practices.
Canada has played a leadership role in increasing international dialogue on Indigenous peoples and HIV and AIDS, including hosting satellite sessions at AIDS2006, AIDS2008 and AIDS2010 and an International Policy Dialogue in Ottawa in 2009. A key outcome of this was the establishment of an International Indigenous Working Group on HIV & AIDS (IIWGHA). The Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN) was endorsed by the International Indigenous community to lead the efforts of the IIWGHA and mobilize the global efforts for addressing HIV and AIDS issues amongst Aboriginal and Indigenous Populations. CAAN continues to enjoy the support of the IIWGHA Leaders it its role as the host of the IIWGHA.
CAAN is a recognized leader within Canada and amongst the International Indigenous community that has been involved in this work. CAAN and Canada can benefit greatly through the knowledge transfer and this can be shared with other Aboriginal groups and stakeholders through national forums and community meetings as can the other members of the IIWGHA and the delegates who attend the Indigenous Pre-conference.
CAAN has the support of domestic organizations and this is demonstrated through the various Memorandums of Understanding signed with National Aboriginal groups; such as the Assembly of First Nations, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, National Association of Friendship Centres, and others.