URGENT: World AIDS Day Release
For immediate release
Contact Kieran Daly +1-416-921-0018 ext. 21
November 30, 2009
AIDS HAS NOT GONE AWAY – NOR SHOULD THE FUNDING
Some 4 million people in low- and middle income countries living with HIV were on antiretroviral treatment by the end of 2008. This is one of the results of the world increasingly mobilizing technical and financial resources in response to the HIV crisis over the last decade. The flip side though, as the world marks World AIDS Day on December 1, is that more than 4 million people, who need antiretroviral treatment, do not have access to it.
“There are many hard-won, but still fragile gains in the response to AIDS that have come about because of governments’ commitments to achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010,” says Kieran Daly , Executive Director of the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO).
“Not honouring these commitments, because of a globally depressed financial environment will mean more deaths and many thousands more infections every day,” he explains in response to worrying signs of weakening international support in response to HIV and AIDS.
“Funding the AIDS response is a critical issue and countries cannot afford to renege on their commitments. A World Health Organisation report released in November indicates that HIV is still one of the leading causes of death and disease among women between the ages of 15 and 44, especially in low-income countries,” says Olayide Akanni of Journalists Against AIDS – Nigeria , and a Board member of ICASO. “The report also notes that stigma, violence by intimate partners, and sexual violence further increase women’s vulnerability. Why is society still failing women?”
ICASO is a network of networks with secretariats on five continents: the International Secretariat based in Canada , The African Council of AIDS Service Organizations, AIDS Action Europe, the Asia Pacific Council of AIDS Service Organizations, the Latin American and Caribbean Council of AIDS Service Organizations and the North American Council of AIDS Service Organizations.
Given the critical importance of human rights in our global response to AIDS, ICASO believes that human rights violations continue to be a major issue of concern, even as funding of the AIDS response is threatened. “Stigma and discrimination towards vulnerable groups remains a big challenge in Africa [for instance]. The increasing tendencies towards criminalization must end,” says Dr. Cheick Tidiane Tall, Executive Director of the African Council of AIDS Service Organizations.
Backing away from financial commitments is a deeply complicating factor in the global response to HIV, says Dr Robert Carr , Associate Director of Policy and Advocacy at ICASO’s International Secretariat. “Especially the fact that key populations, such as women and girls, people living with HIV, sex workers, men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, and undocumented migrants, continue to face technical, legal and socio-cultural barriers in accessing health care services. And this in spite of some evidence that access to HIV interventions is expanding and effective in many settings.”
As such, ICASO demands more effective action from governments in meeting their commitments to universal access to treatment, care and prevention of HIV by 2010.
“This means investing adequate domestic and donor funds to allow for a response to the pandemic that would address its social, political, economic and cultural dimensions,” says Alessandra Nilo, Executive Director of the Latin American and Caribbean Council of AIDS Service Organizations.
Kieran Daly goes on to say, “Those who believe that HIV has had its day and that we can move on to funding other issues, need to say this to the child living with HIV, and the family of the mother who has died, because she had no access to treatment. AIDS is still the leading cause of death in Africa . It is not rocket science to work out that we need to do more, and not less.” One example is the Global Fund to Fight HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which warned in November that unless donor countries scale up their funding, it may not be able to continue approving the kind of demand-driven technically sound funding it has been able to provide countries in the past.
Investments to date in AIDS services have proved that something can be done within developing countries to address fundamental health challenges. But it has also highlighted the common weaknesses in health systems. Increasing funding for HIV alongside health systems strengthening is going to be essential if we are to finally address the decades-long challenge of AIDS.
International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO)
65 Wellesley St. E., Suite 403
Toronto, ON , Canada M4Y 1G7
Mobilizing and supporting diverse community organizations to build an effective response to HIV and AIDS.