As promised, here are responses to a few of the unanswered questions posed at the December 8 town all meeting, HIV/AIDS and the Right to Health: Leadership in the US and Globally. I encourage you to join the conversation by posting a comment or asking a follow-up question. As we continue to receive questions from you and answers from the panelists we will be posting them, so stay tuned!
Q. Do you think that the current global economic downturn will have a significant impact on bilateral and multilateral aid directed towards countries facing a challenging HIV epidemic, such as those in Sub-Saharan Africa? If so, what can we do to prevent a leveling or decline in funding for HIV/AIDS programs around the world?
A. The risk is very real, though it is encouraging that President-elect Obama has committed to doubling U.S. development assistance. We must not allow the weight of the economic downturn to fall on those who are already marginalized and economically and socially disadvantaged. We must redouble our efforts to insist that development assistance grows, even in these difficult economic times. As the global impact of this economic crisis becomes clear, the urgency of development assistance becomes all the more imperative. We should let our congresspersons and the Obama Administration know that funding global health must remain a priority, and remind them that funding HIV/AIDS and other global health programs will not only save countless lives, but will restore America’s global image, enabling us to more effectively work with countries around the world on a host of issues critical to our national interest. Garnering goodwill with governments and ordinary people around the world — including in countries like Pakistan — by giving people real hope, is vital to our national security interests.
Q. Every day, I see young people (many HIV+) who lack health insurance or lack the savvy needed to stay insured while working, growing, and attending college. PEPFAR and other international HIV programs promote reproductive health, human rights and social justice, access to care, and building health system infrastructures, decreasing the personal and social toll of HIV. Why not in US HIV policy?
A.You have laid out many of the issues that AIDS Action Committee believe are essential to address in the National AIDS Strategy. All of these issues must be addressed domestically. Many AIDS service organizations, like AAC, work to promote access to care, reduce barriers such as criminal records checks that may prevent people from accessing housing, and include issues such as reproductive health in our work. There is no doubt that HIV/AIDS is the very nexus of many human rights and social justice issues. This is what compels many of us to work tirelessly for those in need. If you are interested in volunteering, AAC would love to have you!