AHF and AFRICASO remind G20 leaders that the war on AIDS has not been won

In G20, Global by AHF

AHF, the largest global AIDS group, and AFRICASO, the largest network of AIDS service organizations in Africa, say G20 countries should fully fund the Global Fund and honor previous funding commitment

MEXICO CITY (June 12, 2012) As the annual G20 Summit convenes in Mexico this week, advocates from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and the African Council of AIDS Service Organizations (AFRICASO), hosted a press conference Thursday, June 14th at the Presidente InterContinental Hotel in Mexico City to urge all G20 member nations¾the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom (the G8 countries) as well as Mexico, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, South Africa, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the European Union¾to greatly step up funding for the worldwide fight against AIDS, which many AIDS advocates believe is falling short. Specifically, advocates from AHF are calling for G20 member countries to honor their previous commitments and fully fund the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) despite the global financial downturn affecting many of them.

“There are 34 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS today, yet less than 7 million have access to lifesaving antiretroviral treatment. This means that we are only covering 19% of the population with life-saving HIV medications. It is clear that the war on AIDS has not been won, mainly now that we have new scientific evidence from several studies that clearly show that HIV-infected individuals who are successfully on antiretroviral treatment are up to 96% less likely to pass on their infection to partners. This outcome confirms that providing lifesaving treatment also works—exceptionally well—as a form of HIV prevention” said Dr. Jorge Saavedra, former Head of the Mexican National AIDS Program (CENSIDA) and current Global Ambassador for AHF.

“To think that because more than 26 million of HIV positive people are living in Africa, that´s an African problem is clearly a misleading way of seeing a global problem, since we are dealing with an infectious communicable virus that doesn´t respect borders and currently all countries of the world have AIDS cases and 150 developing countries have received help from the Global Fund in order to fight this epidemic,” noted Dr. Cheick Tidiane Tall, Coordinator of AfriCASO, an African network of AIDS service organizations based in Senegal.

Since last year, the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the largest international funder of the global AIDS response, that has allocated $22 billion dollars to finance the response against the three diseases, has been facing its most severe financial crisis since its creation in 2001. This crisis forced the institution to stop launching new rounds to fund developing country proposals and also to cut more than $900 million of already assigned funds to several upper middle-income countries.

“There are several G20 countries, namely 11 of them: Mexico, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, South Africa, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, that have fast growing economies and whose combined GDP is bigger than that of the US or the whole European Union’s combined GDP. These countries have not been constant nor traditional contributors to the Global Fund. Now is the time for them to not only assume the role of huge economic and trade players, but also to start helping less developed countries to control these three spreadable diseases,” added Dr. Saavedra, who is also a member of the AIDS Economic Network and a former Board Member of the GF.

Dra. Patricia Campos, Latin America Bureau Chief for AIDS Healthcare Foundation who is based in Mexico, highlighted that it is shameful that Latin America and The Caribbean are the only regions of the world that are not contributing any money to the Global Fund. “Even less developed countries in Africa and Asia are making contributions to respond to this global threat”, she said. “Contributing to the global control of three infectious diseases that do not respect borders is in the best interest of our own region.”

“Since mid-March, advocates from around the world have sent letters to President Calderon (Current Chair of the G20) and to ambassadors and embassies representing more than 20 Global Fund donor countries to make them aware of the reforms underway at the Fund and ask that they each renew their country’s commitment to fully funding the Global Fund, and to the rest of the non-traditional donors to start contributing,” said Terri Ford, Senior Director of Global Advocacy & Policy. “In one response, the Ambassador of Australia—a country that historically has been a strong supporter of the Fund—noted in a letter that ‘additional Australian support to the Global Fund will be influenced by a number of factors including…the Fund’s progress against reforms, impact and results; and Australia’s future aid priorities.’ Now, AHF is urging all donor countries to fully fund the Global Fund.”

Finally, Dr. Cheick Tidiane Tall added that last year the Board approved a comprehensive reform and adopted a new strategy in order to have a more efficient and effective Global Fund. “Now is time for traditional donors to restart increasing their contributions and for the new huge emerging markets to start doing so. It is in the best interest of all human beings,” he added.

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