There are both moral and economical reasons for Australian health and legal professionals to fight for an end to HIV/AIDS in the Asia-Pacific, according to conference organiser John Rock.

Rock, the international convenor for the National Association Of People Living With HIV/AIDS (NAPWA), is one of the organisers of the HIV/AIDS stream of the Global Alliance For Justice Education (GAJE) three-day conference starting in Sydney next week.

The moral reason [is] whenever we have resources we should bring these to bear in any stream where they are needed, and they are desperately needed in the Asia-Pacific region, Rock says.

The economical reasons for fighting HIV/AIDS in the region are more self-serving, he admits. The loss of productive, consuming people in countries strongly involved in trade with Australia could have serious economic effects.

A lot of people would say that’s a long bow, but in Africa you can already see these things happening.

Next week’s conference will be the third time GAJE has met since the network was established in 1999.

The first conference was held in Kerala, southern India, in 1999 and was attended by 125 delegates from 20 countries. Delegates discussed, among other things, advancing women’s rights and integrating gender into justice education programs.

The second conference was held in Durban, South Africa, in December 2001 and was attended by 170 delegates from 35 countries. It dealt with access to justice and anti-retroviral drugs for people living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. This conference led to the generation of the Australian GAJE committee, and planning for GAJE’s third conference in Sydney.

Most delegates attending next week’s conference were Australia-based, Rock said, although speakers were coming from HIV/AIDS organisations in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and other regional centres.

And the attendees would work towards developing a small but achievable, and practical series of actions and hopefully assist in some way in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the region, he said.

The GAJE conference runs from Monday 9 December to Wednesday 11 December with three streams, HIV/ AIDS, Refugees, and Indigenous Justice.

Conference registration fees are set at $275 for academics and government representatives, $165 for non-government organisations and community representatives and $110 for students and unemployed. This fee covers the whole program including meals and a conference dinner, and there are cheaper one-day registrations available.

There is still time to register for the conference. Visit the website at www.gaje.net.au or email conference administrator Edwina Kobus at gaje@ law.usyd.edu.au for details.

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