Back in July I wrote a post titled “The End of AIDS: We can’t stop funding now”. The post was in response to my visit to our nation’s capital on behalf of my advocacy work with Results, a grassroots organization that works to end global poverty. During this visit, I had to opportunity to visit the Global Village at the XIX International AIDS Conference which was being held in the United States for the first time in many years. It was a symbolic event, clearly highlighting America’s leadership as one of the key funders and advocates in fighting AIDS.
This December 1 is World AIDS Day, a day in which the world brings attention to the devastating fact that this global epidemic still infects 2.7 million new people and claims 2 million lives each year. It is also estimated that nearly 30 million people have died from AIDS-related causes since the beginning of the epidemic (UNAID 2010 report).
Although “these are sobering numbers, this year World AIDS Day comes after a string of stunning scientific advances that has fundamentally altered the possibilities in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The end of the AIDS epidemic is within our grasp” (Results.org).
Tremendous progress has been made in the battle against HIV/AIDS over the last decade. Progress we never knew was possible. Ten years ago, no one in Sub-Saharan Africa was being treated for AIDS.
Today, over 6 million people are being effectively treated with antiretrovirals that have a 96% success rate in not transmitting the disease.
We also know a lot more about keeping people safe from becoming infected through the use of condoms, circumcision and community education and awareness on promoting safe sex. Finally, we have empowered local governments to take initiative and ownership of fighting the AIDS battle on their own turf. We need 100% cooperation on all ends in order to successfully end AIDS.
During the July RESULTS conference in Washington DC, we were honored to hear a presentation by Dr. Rajiv Shah, the new Administrator of the U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID). Dr. Shah is hopeful that an end of AIDS is possible. He stated that we have the tools, now we need to act by funding them. The key to ending AIDS is through prevention. It has been proven that early treatment of HIV positive people with antiretrovirals reduces the transmission by 96% meaning a possible end to AIDS is in sight. Unless we cut back.
Two key vehicles that provide global AIDS Funding are The Global Fund (which was created ten years ago and is the world’s largest source of funding for AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria), and Pepfar (The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief). With the “Fiscal Cliff” approaching in Congress and a ten-year deficit reduction package exceeding $1.2 trillion (ONE.org), the impact on cuts to global development including global health* (*programs would be cut $670 million from FY2012 levels), we are facing a huge setback in the progress that has been made over the last few decades.
A significant amount of funding is at stake and millions of lives and years of progress are at risk. Although it is an awful lot of money, it is important to remember which many often forget, that US foreign aid accounts for less than 1% of our federal budget as opposed 24% spent on defense. Can you imagine the impact we’d have on ending global poverty if we increased the percentage even more?
The naysayers like to argue that we need to spend more than most countries GDP in order to fight against terrorism. Yet many argue that there is no better way to fight against terrorism by ending desolation, destruction, hopelessness and death that is seen throughout the world due to disease, hunger and poverty.
The bottom line:
It took 20 years to get to this point. There is a glimmer of hope that an end to AIDS is possible. We need to get the message out there loud and clear to our government that we cannot stop now. We are almost there. There is an end to AIDS yet it won’t be possible without paying for it. Even if you don’t believe that it is the moral thing to do, the US Government cannot ignore the impacts on our national security and economy. We no longer live in an isolated world. Everything is interconnected. We are one world, a global world.
Funding global health programs such as the Global Fund and Pepfar is not only the right thing to do, it is the moral thing to do. We can no longer let millions of people waste away and die. It is time we stood up for all human beings and the basic human right to life.
Please view: The End of AIDS? A film of hope
Information on this film:
“The Stop AIDS Campaign has crafted a short film about the current stage of the global response to HIV/AIDS. This beautiful piece of cinema tells a story which needs to be listened to right now; not only does it outline the daily challenges many individuals face in battling with the realities of the virus, but it also illuminates the valuable window of opportunity we have right now.
For now we have reached a tipping point in the global battle against this destructive pandemic. Drastic progress has been made in medical research, with new studies showing we are able to radically decrease levels of incidence of the virus. So, after 30 years, and 30 million deaths, for the first time a possibilityhas opened up where we are able to globally decrease levels of HIV infection.
The film shows the very real opportunity we have right now to achieve the change we have so long been striving for; to rid the world of AIDS. However, to do this we need to ensure our governments continue to support initiatives on research and implementation of HIV treatment. This is an issue that Results UK are fighting for, if you would like to join us at this vital time, please click here to contribute to our action.” (RESULTS website)