In lieu of yesterday’s World AIDS Day and Consider’s latest issue concerning gay men’s right to donate blood, I felt it only appropriate to shed light on another tribulation concerning HIV/AIDS. The world’s leading contributors to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have declared that due to the financial downfall, donation goals will be far from met. The Global Fund not only pays for half of the world’s HIV medicine, but also funds numerous education and advocacy programs around the world. Now the fund is concerned that the government’s financial crisis in the U.S. and Europe could result in a crisis of their own.
A clinic in Khayelitsha, South Africa, supplies over 6,000 people with anti-retroviral drugs to help those with HIV/AIDS stay healthy. Nompumelelo Montangana, the operational manager of the clinic expressed her concerns with the potential loss of money and loss of progress:
“If the funding is not there, then that means what we have worked [on] over the past 10 years … will be a waste.”
If worse comes to worst and the fund encounters stock-outs, those who are already in treatment will be cut off. Unfortunately, one of South Africa’s largest AIDS organizations, The Treatment Action Campaign, will be forced to close down The Global Fund if they don’t make ends meet by January.
While times are undoubtedly tough for the U.S. economy as well as all over Europe, many are not convinced that this is the only factor draining the donations to AIDS in Africa. Dr. Eric Goemaere, the director of Doctors Without Borders for Southern Africa asserts that because these countries are no longer as personally affected by the disease as they once were, the war on AIDS has become secondary to their financial plight, which they are confronted with daily. Without pointing fingers or speaking out of line, I do think it is important to continue to raise awareness about this issue and remember how devastating and real the epidemic is today.
Here are some facts about AIDS to remind us what we need to be fighting against:
• AIDS is the sixth leading cause of death among people ages 25 – 44 in the United States, down from number one in 1995.
• The World Health Organization estimates that more than 25 million people worldwide have died from this infection since the start of the epidemic.
• In 2008, there were approximately 33.4 million people around the world living with HIV/AIDS, including 2.1 million children under age 15.
By: Lauren Opatowski
(Photo by Johnny Vulkan under a Creative Commons license)