World AIDS Day, 2015: Where do we stand?
December 1, 2015
Today, you’ll hear a great deal about the end of AIDS. If you’re like most people, that slogan will confuse you, and you won’t know quite what to believe. Is the worst behind us, or are 34 million people living with HIV right now? Is AIDS destined to become history in 15 years, or will millions more have contracted HIV by that time?
The truth is not confusing, but neither is it comforting: AIDS is not over. Unfortunately, no slick slogan can make it so. It’s true that for well-off people lucky enough to live in the western world, the days when people died for lack of money to buy medication can seem like a bygone era. The days of hiding one’s HIV status for fear of losing one’s job might be too distant to recall. The days when health workers sterilized women living with HIV ‘for their own good’ may seem like ancient history.
But for tens of millions of people in Africa, particularly adolescent girls and young women, HIV has always been a factor and remains a constant fear. Today, it’s not just AIDS that threatens their lives; it’s the slogan. The mythological “end of AIDS” has given the world permission to end concern, end compassion, and end the funding required to stop the suffering and death.
Most ominous of all, the decline in funding threatens the fearless, principled tradition of AIDS advocacy—advocacy that forced governments to roll out HIV treatment, change discriminatory laws, confront bias and stigma head-on, and protect the least powerful and most at risk. Advocacy that has saved and strengthened hundreds of millions of lives.
AIDS-Free World is continuing the tradition. We’re remaining an outspoken voice, analyzing the global response to HIV, holding governments and institutions to account when they fall short, and addressing so many other issues that intersect with HIV/AIDS, from poverty to sexual violence. We’ll keep it up until the end of AIDS is truly within reach — the reach of everyone.
There is still much to be done. For today only, we can do twice as much, move twice as fast toward the end of AIDS, because Network for Good will match #GivingTuesday donations up to $100,000.
Please join us. Donate today.
Paula Donovan and Stephen Lewis, co-directors
p.s. In Canada, please donate here.