A few days ago, you may have received an email from ONE and Dr. Patricia Nkansah-Asamoah, in which she asked you to help protect programs that fight HIV/AIDS in the world’s poorest places.
We were thrilled for that email to come from her, because she is truly on the front lines in the fight against AIDS. On top of being a longtime ONE member and AIDS activist, she is a doctor for HIV-positive mothers at the Tema Hospital in Accra, Ghana — so she knows exactly who and what she is fighting for.
The last time you may have seen Dr. Patricia’s name on the ONE Blog was last December for ONE and (RED)’s World AIDS Day event, where President Obama promised to provide nearly 6 million HIV-positive people with the treatment they need to live healthy and productive lives. She was at the event and witnessed President Obama say those words himself. And now, 6 months later, she’s helping us hold Congress accountable to his promise before the International AIDS Conference (IAC) this July, where world leaders are meeting to make some important decisions around AIDS.
I had a chance to chat with Dr. Patricia on the phone last week about our new campaign. In our conversation, we talked about her inspiration, the fight against HIV/AIDS then and now, and why the IAC is so important.
Malaka: You are always so willing to participate in events and offer up your voice to campaigns with ONE, (RED) and other NGOs when it comes to HIV/AIDS. What inspires you to keep working with global nonprofits?
Dr. Patricia: They keep the heat going. If we don’t do these things, after some time everything fizzles out and nobody is willing to stand up and talk about it. I lend my voice because I know what it’s like to be on the ground without the support. I don’t want to go back to when there was nothing. I want people to be treated, to have an HIV-free generation as we are hoping for in 2015.
Why do you think it is important for ONE members to rally their voices together now before the IAC?
It’s a critical time for us to all put our voices together, and for the government to not think that we’ve done our best… for them to know that they’ve done a lot, but we’re not past the challenge, and we need to keep up the fight. We have a few years to 2015. What will happen by that time? We might not realize our dreams. So we need to add our voices and encourage our government to keep the promises that they have made.
Who is your inspiration in the fight against HIV/AIDS?
It’s my patients — seeing them get better and seeing them being able to live a normal life like anyone else. And mothers having children who are HIV-negative
What advice can you give ONE members and other HIV/AIDS activists on how they can stay motivated? We are almost there… at the beginning of the end…
Just know that the end is in sight, but it doesn’t mean it’s the end. If you don’t work hard to make sure you really get to the end, then it’s like you fought a battle, you almost won, but you did not win. Yes, the end is almost here, but it’s not here yet. Until we really get there and put in our all, we can’t give up.
What is different now about the fight against HIV/AIDS than 10 years ago?
It’s more about the fight against aids and stopping people from dying or fighting. It was about getting treatment to lots of people. But now, with the help of treatments, those challenges have been reduced. We’re fighting so hard to have babies that don’t have HIV at all. People on treatment will stay on treatment and not transmit them to other people. Very soon with the number will remain the same and not increase at all, helping it become a thing of the past.
Make sure that Dr. Patricia’s dream of seeing an HIV-free generation comes true. Tell Congress to protect AIDS-fighting programs in the world’s poorest places.