On World AIDS Day

Two hands holding many smaill red AIDS ribbons

A few things to read (snippets posted here; click the links for the full articles):

Fight AIDS with Family Planning.

The situation in Mityana in not unusual; in fact it is far too common. 215 million women worldwide are not using an effective method of contraception despite the fact that they want to avoid pregnancy. The largest segment of these women live in sub-Saharan Africa and many are at risk of HIV. Women account for 60 percent of people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, and young women between the ages of 15-24 are up to eight times more likely to be infected than men of the same age.

December 1st marks World AIDS Day and this year’s theme is “Getting to Zero.” Much of this day will be focused on a celebration of new technology and science that can help prevent HIV through daily treatment and male circumcision. And we should celebrate those advances — but we should also not lose sight of women who need both family planning and HIV services.

Does the Global Community Care?

This year, on World AIDS Day, the scientific promise for the end of HIV is the brightest it’s ever been. We’re seeing radical new uses for antiretroviral drugs – to prevent the transmission of HIV as well as treat its effects. We’re poised, medically, to bring this epidemic to its knees.

In the face of this great opportunity, the global community responded in one voice, “Forget it. We don’t care.” Things are hard all around, you know, and foreigners with HIV don’t vote in domestic elections. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria just canceled its next round of grants. The WHO is laying off staff. Bilateral donors are cutting aid to global health. Instead of breaking the cycle of HIV transmission, developing nations will be lucky if they can protect the people they already have on treatment.

That may sound dramatic, but look at the numbers. The Global Fund asked donors for $20 billion. It received $11.5. Everyone from Germany to the USA reneged on their pledges of support.

As Long as Homophobia Lives, AIDS Won’t Die.

MSM [Men who have sex with men] are among the most-at-risk populations in Zambia for HIV and AIDS, chiefly because they are “hidden,” unable to access or ask about health services freely due to prejudice and blatant homophobia in traditional African society. As a result, MSM have a high risk of dying of HIV/AIDS-related illness — a scandalous statistic in an era when many HIV-positive people are living productive and optimistic lives with free modern treatment.

No Retreat in the Fight Against AIDS [Ed: Why yes I am linking to an op/ed by George W. Bush. I can’t believe it either].

In a world where distance no longer provides protection, America and Europe can feel the sudden impact of events far from home. Suffering abroad can be a warning sign of future disorder and conflict—the distant thunder that reveals a gathering storm. It is hopelessness that aids extremists and spreads deadly ideologies. It is in failed states and ungoverned regions where many of the world’s challenges arise. There is no effective way to oppose the enemies of freedom without also opposing the shared enemies of humankind—disease and poverty.

But the developing world, particularly Africa, is not only a place of suffering. It is also a place of opportunity and strategic competition. Many African economies are growing faster than those in the developed world. American engagement is rewarded in growing markets. American retreat would leave a void eagerly filled by others.

Engagement serves our interests. It also reveals our deepest values. No nation can solve all the problems of the world. But a nation that believes human dignity is universal—that affirms that all men and women are created equal—will do what it can. In the U.S., foreign humanitarian assistance, including AIDS relief, represents less than 1% of our federal budget. It is not the cause of our fiscal problems. Reducing our commitment would only succeed in increasing the sum of suffering.

Fighting HIV/AIDS is a goal that can unite nations, as well as people of various political ideologies. It is a cause broad enough to include the medical profession and religious congregations, human rights advocates and pro-life activists. There is work to be done for private companies, nonprofit organizations, government leaders, and even former government leaders. This extraordinary coalition has an extraordinary goal within sight—the creation of an AIDS-free generation.

In lean budget times, the U.S. and the developing world must prioritize. But there can be no higher priority than saving lives. And there is no better way to save lives than to support and expand effective, proven programs such as Pepfar.

Help Donate Two Million HIV Tests

Today, PSI announced a new partnership with healthcare diagnostics company Alere Inc to deliver HIV Rapid tests. “An HIV test is a simple and reliable tool for knowing one’s HIV status and, if diagnosed positive, an important trigger for seeking proper care and encouraging one’s partner to get tested,” says Karl Hofmann, President and CEO of PSI.

Alere has set the goal of donating one million tests to PSI through a new social media campaign. Every “like” on Facebook, “follower” on Twitter, or piece of artwork submitted to the campaign’s social media websites will lead to one donated HIV rapid test.

Other great World AIDS Day pieces you’re reading? Link them in the comments.

8 comments for “On World AIDS Day

  1. December 1, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Read this new article by Carmen Barroso and Serra Sippel on the integration of sexual and reproductive health and rights as a holistic response to HIV/AIDS

  2. Kim
    December 1, 2011 at 11:43 am

    For the second year in a row, my friend Steven is having a blog contest with prizes to raise money for the Pittsburgh Aids Task Force which provides free HIV tests and other services. Check it out & donate.

  3. December 1, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Also, for our World AIDS Day / 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence mashup: The Integration of HIV and Gender-based Violence

  4. Perspecticus
    December 1, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    I read the Bush op-Ed and remember his funding commitment to fight AIDS. However, I also seem to recal that at the same time, him and his party passed laws forbidding foreign aid be spent on family planning, sex education, condoms, and prevention. Remembering all that, maybe we can ease up on being pleasantly surprised with his words today.

  5. December 1, 2011 at 1:20 pm
  6. December 1, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Perspecticus: I also seem to recal that at the same time, him and his party passed laws forbidding foreign aid be spent on family planning, sex education, condoms, and prevention

    Not forgetting the PEPFAR Pledge, under which sex worker service providers lose their funding if they won’t sign an anti-prostitution declaration. Because sharing George Bush’s morality on sex work is more important than saving lives.

  7. December 1, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    The GREAT BARRIER Brief which is “hidden in plain site (sic)” at the website janesway dot net This was the name used when it got a NIH grant during Clinton admin then the next ex-prez YOU KNOW WHO demoted all contraception and disease prevention for women to below funding guidelines for the National Inst Health! No one would know this even if they were refused funding.

    Note the website is from 1999 scroll down to find links. FDA & NIH knew about this in 1987-1988 NIH grant finally in 1999 Newspaper media won’t touch it cause their advertising policy is no bad news about their advertisers….esp incl Big pHARMA WHAT WOULD WORK in this case? I am the only entity (no corporation involved) still working on this….pt time while farming.
    On F’bk Fern Fedora or contact at website above subject Attention Fern

  8. Jamie
    December 1, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Fun fact about life in Africa: the free antiretrovirals given out by many governments don’t work without food. This is one of the main reasons that poverty and AIDS go together.

Comments are closed.