Under Argentina’s Presidency of the G20, leading economies in Latin America need to step up their contributions to fight against global AIDS and other related public-health threats.
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA (August 7, 2018). Civil society health organizations, experts and world leaders meeting this week at the C20 (Civil 20) Summit in Buenos Aires urge G20 governments to incorporate key public health topics into the November 2018 G20 Summit agenda.
“The G20 has more power to achieve an impact on international development than any other world organization,” said Dr. Jorge Saavedra, Executive Director of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Global Public Health Institute at the University of Miami. “As a whole, the G20 represents 85% of the world gross domestic product and 80% of world trade. Due to its economic power and influence, the health policies developed by the G20 to address existing and emerging world health threats may set the course for the rest of the world.”
“The G20 summit, under Argentina’s presidency, is an opportunity for world leaders to reaffirm their commitment to stopping the HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria epidemics and address critical public health-related challenges,” said AHF Senior Director of Global Advocacy and Policy Loretta Wong.
Every year, nearly 1 million women, children and men die of AIDS-related causes – the equivalent of a large city being annihilated every year – due to a chronic disease that is now treatable and preventable. From a socio-economic standpoint, mortality of this magnitude, and particularly of people in the prime of their lives, represents a tragic loss of invaluable human potential to innovate, build communities, start families and make a better world with respect to many other aspects of human activity.
While HIV/AIDS appears in the headlines far less today than in prior decades, the magnitude of its impact is still startling. There are an estimated 36.9 million people living with HIV/AIDS globally, with approximately 1.8 million new infections annually. Additionally, many are not aware of their status and potentially not taking the necessary steps to prevent further transmission. Despite advancements in treatment and prevention, the new infection rate has only shown a 16% reduction in adults since 2010 – a pace far too slow to bring HIV/AIDS under control.
Funding is a major obstacle in curbing the epidemic. Global health development assistance for HIV/AIDS has dropped by USD 3 billion since 2012. This is unacceptable and AHF rejects the notion that there are no additional funds available to respond to HIV/AIDS, especially when annual military spending tops USD 1.7 trillion globally.
According to UNAIDS, approximately USD 21.3 billion is currently being invested in HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment, but that is not enough.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, created in 2002 to help finance the fight against these three diseases in developing countries, has had difficulty in raising more resources. Latin American countries and G20 members Argentina, Brazil and Mexico have received millions of Global Fund dollars in the past but are not yet helping to replenish it.
As shown by epidemiological and financial figures, the world seems to be stuck in place in its response to HIV/AIDS. Unless steps are taken to invigorate and fully finance global public health’s most urgent priorities, the global economic and technological gap will continue to grow, creating increased instability, social conflict and economic insecurity.
With this in mind, AHF urges G20 members to implement definite measures to address the following compelling global public health challenges:
- Financing: G20 countries should increase their contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and in more general terms, demand strong bilateral and multilateral commitments to external aid for public health.
- Drug accessibility: G20 countries should remove barriers to pharmaceutical imports and the domestic production of affordable generic drugs, which are essential to public health, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
- HIV testing and treatment: Governments should generate policies that broaden the scope of HIV testing programs. In the absence of a cure or an effective HIV vaccine, the most effective way to control the HIV/AIDS epidemic is by providing HIV testing and treatment to as many people as possible.
- Antimicrobial resistance: Antimicrobial resistance represents a dangerous threat to global public health. With the appearance of many drug-resistant pathogens, such as gonorrhoea, tuberculosis and others, the risk of unstoppable pandemics is constantly growing. The world should address this issue by significantly increasing investment in research and preparing for outbreaks.
- Neglected tropical diseases: As shown by the Ebola outbreak in 2014, we ignore neglected tropical diseases at our own peril. The cost of not being prepared for an inevitable outbreak in an interconnected world could mean the loss of millions of lives, serious travel and global trade disruption, and long-lasting costs for the reconstruction of the affected communities.
“G20 countries represent billions of dollars in economic activity every year,” said Dr. Saavedra. “In contrast, addressing these urgent public health issues would only require a minimal additional investment and would bring substantial benefits to the world economy in terms of equity, reduced economic distress and a healthier world for everyone. On the other hand, G20 governments should also consider that some countries are going through a serious health crisis and require an urgent global humanitarian response. Among these countries are Syria, Yemen, Libya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Venezuela.”
“In Argentina, the government has outlined the main priorities for its G20 presidency, which focus on addressing the social and economic gap that continues to grow due to technological innovation and automation,” said Dr. Miguel Pedrola, Scientific Director for AHF Latin America and the Caribbean. “Undoubtedly, this problem deserves attention, but it is important to point out that the digital divide is aggravated by more fundamental, unresolved issues. From its position as G20 president, Argentina has, not only the possibility, but the responsibility to be the voice of those who are ‘invisible’ – those who truly suffer due to health system inequalities and who are usually highly stigmatized and discriminated against.”
As a signing country, Argentina has committed to meeting the 2020 goals proposed by the PAHO/WHO, defined as “90/90/90” – 90% of people living with HIV becoming aware of their status, 90% of those having access to treatment and 90% of the people receiving treatment having suppressed viral loads.
As per the official figures in the HIV, AIDS and STD Bulletin published December 2017, Argentina is far from meeting 90/90/90 goals for 2020 and will not be able to reduce that gap in less than two years.
Click here for a chart outlining ARGENTINA’S 2020 GOALS toward testing, treatment and viral suppression under ‘90/90/90.’
AHF and other civil society organizations urge the Argentine Government to act now work on these pressing public policies to enable the country to fulfil its promise regarding its HIV/AIDS response.
For more information, please contact Dr. Miguel Pedrola at +54 9 3462 62 3267 or at [email protected].
Interviews are available upon request.
About AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 968,000 people in 41 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare.
AHF Argentina initiated its program in 2013 and supports over 13,000 patients in clinics throughout the Argentine territory. AHF and partners also provide rapid HIV testing in 14 provinces throughout the country and distributes AHF’s free LOVE brand condoms, which are manufactured in Argentina. As of 2017, AHF had tested over 120,000 people for HIV, with a 0.88% prevalence of new diagnoses.
About the C20. https://civil-20.org
This year, Argentina is hosting the G20 presidency (Forum for 19 industrialized and emerging countries, together with the European Economic Community), and has the potential to be a spokesperson for the inequalities that exist in our region and country. The G20 has ad hoc consulting groups that contribute to the discussion of the President’s agenda, with the intention of setting the direction of world policies. These groups are formed based on common interests and comprised of those (activists, business people, politicians, etc.) who often have different objectives. Currently, there are seven affinity groups representing the private sector (Business 20), social sector (Civil 20), trade unions (Labor 20), the scientific community (Science 20), the academic community (Think 20), women (Women 20) and youth (Youth 20). For more information, visit: https://civil-20.org/c20-face-to-face-working-group-meeting/