The United Nations has come out and said that the declining financial commitment towards HIV/AIDS activities by the developed countries is creating a US$7 billion funding gap annually which is killing people.
The UN agency that deals with HIV/AIDs matters UNAIDS, appealed to the developing countries not to reduce on their AIDS funding saying it is time for togetherness and not isolation. This was at the opening of the 19th International AIDS conference in Washington DC on Sunday night.
The UNAIDS executive Director Michel Sidibe passionately appealed to developed countries' policy makers saying; when investments in HIV/AIDS are cut, that is a decision to let HIV and AIDS continue to ruin lives and damage communities." "When pregnant women cannot access services, that is a decision to abandon the next generation to AIDS," Sidibe said.
Several speakers addressed the thousands of people who gathered for the opening of the conference at the Washington Convention Centre. Each called for more commitment to the funding and the fight against HIV with emphasis on promotion of treatment as a preventive measure.
Those who addressed the gathering included the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, who talked in a televised address, the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, politicians, activists, scientists and Individual beneficiaries of the Anti-Retroviral therapy (ART).
Sidibe praised the African heads of State who he said have for the first time agreed on a road map for shared responsibility to health funding "grounded in mutual accountability and ownership." He said globally over 80 low and middle income countries increased their domestic funding for AIDS by more than 50% between 2006 and 2011. BRIC countries, he said, now fund on average more than 75% of their domestic AIDS responses."
He said that there is need to increase interventions like prevention of mother to child transmission, condom use, Ant-Retroviral Therapy (ART) and others and generally integrate HIV into primary health care.
"He said that science is providing great tools for treatment and prevention and a real hope for vaccine and cure. He said, however, that momentum is growing for financial transaction tax which could be use d to close the gap in Global AIDS investment. "I am repeating the call for a Robinhood tax now," he said.
He praised the US government for the funds committed to the fight against HIV. "Every day, American people go to work. They raise families, and pay their taxes. Many never see what they money does. It goes to countries they may never visit, helping people they may never meet...," Sidibe said. He also praised the UK Government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Kim who addressed the international aids conference for the first time said that globally 150m people are forced into poverty because of increased health expenditures and lost income due to illness, including HIV/AIDS. He said that his organization has helped 40 countries scale up social safety-net programmes including health insurance schemes, old age pensions and cash transfer programmes that supplement the incomes of poor countries.
According to him, success in AIDS responses depends on partnerships. He said today 1.3 billion people still live in absolute poverty and to end it calls for sharing knowledge to build systems that can sustainably meet human need.
Ban Ki Moon said that he will continue pushing drugs industries for accessible and affordable HIV/AIDS drugs.
As the conferences started, protestors opposed to the circumcision campaign as an HIV prevention measure, insisted that governments and other actors in the fight against HIV should stick to condoms and treatment "and not mutilate the male genitalia."
"Circumcision is torture, it is genital mutilation and an abuse of human rights. An intact genital area is a human right," some of their placards read.