Shared responsibility of the AIDS response must become part of a new global compact. This was the central message of a high-powered breakfast meeting that took place in Washington, DC on 18 April.
The event brought together leaders in the response to AIDS with members of United States Congress, the Administration, the private sector and AIDS advocates to emphasize how the adoption of the 'shared responsibility' approach is translating joint efforts into real results.
The Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé thanked the United States for its longstanding leadership in the AIDS response through such ground-breaking initiatives as the multi-billion dollar President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and its support to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. “The continued leadership and investment from the United States is not only helping to leverage additional resources from donor governments but also from the domestic budgets of low-and middle-income countries,” said Mr Sidibé.”
South Africa's experience, for example, shows how the shared responsibility is being translated into real results on the ground. The government now accounts for some three-quarters of the AIDS spending in the country and, under a Partnership Framework signed with the US, it will finance almost 90% of its response by 2017.
According to South Africa's Minister of Finance, the Honourable Pravin Jamnadas Gordhan, “South Africans have turned the tide against AIDS. Our achievement is a tribute to the close collaboration between South Africans - government, business, researchers, and community workers - and the steadfast and generous support of our partners in the international community.”
South African film star, United Nations Messenger of Peace and founder of the Africa Outreach Project, Charlize Theron said, “The tipping point is upon us and we have an incredible opportunity to turn the tide on HIV and end the AIDS epidemic for good. I ask that you please take this opportunity to heart and from wherever you sit - Congress, corporate America, the community - that you continue to use your power and influence to keep creating hope and help moving the AIDS response forward. We can, we must, and we will overcome this epidemic together.”
Florida Mwesiga, Family Ambassador for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, played a special role in highlighting the impact of HIV on young people. “I'm thankful that my mum was able to receive treatment that protected me from HIV while she was pregnant,” said Ms Mwesiga. “My mum continues her fight to ensure all mothers everywhere can experience the gift of an HIV-negative child,” she shared. “My mother's courage to stand up and demand change inspires me every day. And it's because of her that I feel so empowered to also make a difference,” added Ms Mwesiga reminding all participants that everyone has an important role to play in the response to AIDS.
It was clear by the end of the meeting that important contributions by the US to the AIDS response are crucial to achieving the ambitious but attainable goal of an AIDS-free generation. Ambassador Goosby concluded that, “Collectively, we've taken great strides in the global AIDS response. PEPFAR is proud of its close collaboration with host countries and other partners in supporting this transformational change. While much work remains to be done, through country ownership, smart investments, and shared responsibility, I am confident that we will create an AIDS-free generation.”
The event was co-hosted by the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, ONE, the United States Global Leadership Coalition, and UNAIDS.