Conference 2009: Culture and condoms - Integrating approaches to HIV and AIDS

Conference 2009: Culture and condoms - Integrating approaches to HIV and AIDS

06.05.2009 | Bern

"Sometimes I get the feeling that I talk past people", says a disillusioned development officer involved in the international response to HIV and AIDS. He is not alone in the feeling expressed in this statement. Many actors in the international AIDS response focus on the biomedical approach, "overlooking" the cultural and social drivers of the epidemic. Conceptions of health and disease, and related beliefs and traditional practices are rooted in culture and have an impact on behaviour and how people cope with HIV and AIDS – and on the success of the response to HIV and AIDS. Culture is "not only the arts and letters, but also modes of life, the fundamental rights of the human being, value systems, traditions and beliefs" (UNESCO).

What does a cultural approach look like? A cultural approach allows prevention and care methods and messages to come from within and be appropriate to different cultures. Creative and artistic projects may be the most visible examples. Cultural appropriate projects include working with religious leaders, elders and healers as well as involving people living with HIV and affected by AIDS.

The conference explored cultural approaches to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, based on the experience and knowledge of partner organisations and others.

Objectives of the conference:

• To understand the relevance of cultural approaches in the HIV and AIDS response

• To share good practice in cultural approaches

• To provide motivation for implementation of cultural methods and tools for use in our own field of work

The conference is financially supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Aids-Hilfe Schweiz, World Vision Switzerland and Migros Kulturprozent.