To commemorate World AIDS Day, we’re launching a series of blog posts to educate, inspire and update you about the fight against HIV/AIDS. Keep an eye out for posts like this one on the ONE Blog throughout the week
Every year on December 1, the world marks another anniversary of the global HIV epidemic. This year, as we take time on the ONE Blog to mark the week of World AIDS Day, we see opportunities that make us very optimistic about bringing this epidemic to an end, and an equally long list of challenges to overcome.
Let’s start with the good news: AIDS deaths are declining, new infections are decreasing in some countries and more than 5 million people are alive thanks to life-saving antiretroviral treatment (Check out UNAIDS’ new report for details).
Donors have also responded with historic levels of support, reaching about $8 billion in 2009, and another $8 billion from domestic sources, including governments, businesses and individuals. And there’s more help on the way, with recent good news on a number of new HIV prevention technologies (which we’ll be blogging about tomorrow).
Still, we are really worried about donors stepping away from their commitment to universal access to HIV treatment and prevention. The slow pace of economic recovery in most donor countries, coupled with shifting political energies, signal rough times ahead in keeping the pace up.
In September, we saw the mediocre replenishment of the Global Fund. In Washington, where the biggest checks for AIDS assistance get signed, many advocates are trying to understand the impact of the recent elections on foreign assistance, and while there’s no clear answer, there aren’t many people seeing this as an opportunity to seek bold increases.
So, we have our work cut out for us. On a personal note, even after 20 years of working on AIDS, I’m optimistic about our ability to change the trajectory of the epidemic in fundamental ways, even while being practical about the funding doldrums ahead. Indeed, I don’t think we have the luxury to despair. Many, many lives depend on us sticking to our work and making and re-making the case for increased AIDS funding while pushing to make better use of what’s already being provided.
Let’s commemorate this week of World AIDS Day by remembering those that we’ve lost, taking stock of where we are and finding new ways to be a part of bringing this epidemic to an end!