G20 Coverage: Funeral Procession for HIV and AIDS Funding?


Max October will be covering the G20 for RH Reality Check.

Starting at 1:30 today, RH Reality Check is kindly hosting
live blogging and twittering
of a funeral procession held by AIDS activists at the G20 conference in
Pittsburgh today at 2pm. The funeral procession will be a visual reminder of
the toll of the G20 nations’ decisions (or lack of decisions) about the economy
and global health.

But the real story here is not about the funeral procession.
The real story is the stories of the people with HIV and AIDS or at
risk for HIV and AIDS in the global south, in countries like South
Africa, Rwanda, Malawi, and others. Over the past decades, through
efforts of AIDS activists working locally and internationally, people
in poor countries were starting to see improvement: things like more
access to treatment, lowered cost of HIV drugs, and increased life
expectancies.

But when the global recession hit, the donor nations went
back on their promises. Instead of expanding successful programs
that have saved millions of lives, countries are scaling back and not
paying the money they had pledged. The direct result of this scaling
back is clinics not taking new patients, as is happening right now
in South Africa. It is the government of Uganda ending their program
of providing free retroviral drugs to poor citizens. It is
medicine stock- outs in Malawi, where the country cannot afford to stock the treatments its citizens need, so that even if an individual
could afford medicine, it is simply not available.

And those are just stories about treatment. One reality of
HIV/AIDS is that once a person starts treatment, they cannot stop
treatment. Stopping treatment has devastating consequences for the
course of the disease, and restarting it does not work. So when funding is
short and,programs need to be cut, prevention programs are cut first,
despite the fact that prevention is as important as treatment in
ending the epidemic. This is why it is incredibly important that the
rich nations at the G20 conference commit to increasing funding to fight
global AIDS, not decrease funding.

One particularly important commitment the G20 nations need
to honor is their commitment to the Global Fund for AIDS, TB, and
Malaria. The Global Fund is funded by rich nations and solicits grants
from poorer countries affected by the AIDS epidemic. This multilateral
funding allows programs like condom distribution and family planning
that can’t be funded by the US, under current law. In order to
continue to provide women and men at risk of contracting HIV with access
to the tools to protect their own reproductive health, the G20
nations must increase their commitment to the Global Fund. All treatment
programs should be kept open and expanded, and preventions efforts
must be kept open and accessible as well.

This is why we are processing, blogging, and tweeting today.
Continue to follow us on twitter and here throughout the afternoon,
as we bring the messages of speakers from groups such as New Voices
Pittsburgh: Women of Color for Reproductive Justice, the Metropolitan
Community Church, and Azania Heritage International.

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