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Together with Africa

May 1, 2011

UN Review on AIDS: Is the world moving away from HIV?

In June 2011, the United Nations will hold a high level meeting in New York to assess progress in the global response to HIV and AIDS and to set new goals. Hearings in early April included participation of faith-based advocacy and humanitarian groups. According to the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA), the meeting highlighted progress that had been made but also revealed serious challenges ahead. Efforts by faith groups and others will have to be particularly focused and intense in the coming weeks.

From an article on EAA’s website:

“I’m worried; I’m scared,” Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda of Zimbabwe, general secretary of the the World Young Women’s Christian Association, and a speaker at the hearing, said at an evening “de-brief” sponsored by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) following the all-day civil society meeting. 

“The world is moving away from HIV,” she said, expressing a concern by faith-based activists at the meeting that what has been achieved globally, though commendable, is just a beginning and will be lost if global concern about HIV and AIDS wanes in the coming years. …

In an era of global and national “scaling-back” for social programs while military expenditures increase, Gumbonzvanda said in an interview, governments “have their resource envelopes. They make choices. When they say, ‘We don’t have money for AIDS,’ they are making a choice.”

Peter Prove, the executive director of the Geneva-based EAA, said he, too, is worried, as the general trend “of the discourse is as if the battle (against HIV and AIDS) has already been won. But it’s nowhere near been won, really.”

Faith-based advocates like Gumbonzvanda and Prove said that progress in the response to HIV has to be affirmed and acknowledged, whether it is the fact that many people being treated for HIV are living longer lives or that more people than ever are being treated medically.

But, as Prove said in an interview following the all-day session, only about one-third of those who need treatment are now receiving it. By 2030, there may be some 55 million who will require it.

The worry, Prove said, is that international attention to the problem may be waning due to other global issues, leading to a possible “down-scaling” of the global response to HIV.  “That’s exactly the moment for the churches and other faith groups to say, ‘No, that’s not right.’ ”

Read the article in its entirety here.

As the U.S. Congress begins debate on the FY2012 appropriations, the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns submitted testimony to the House Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, encouraging members of Congress to honor fully U.S. commitments through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Respond (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund. See Maryknoll’s testimony here.

Also, see QDDR, the Global Health Initiative and AIDS, an article in the March-April 2011 issue of NewsNotes.

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