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Tomorrow is Worlds Aids Day. And those working on HIV/AIDS have an amazing story to tell the world: we can end the AIDS crisis. Breakthroughs in science have shown us that getting AIDS drugs to those with HIV not only keeps them alive and healthy, but can reduce risk of infection by 96%. This news is amazing - from now on, no one needs to die of AIDS - no one needs to become HIV positive.
We've made some incredible progress in the fight against AIDS. We’ve got effective medicines to those in need and have reached out to more and more communities to stop the spread. In the last 5 years over 8 million people have been put on life saving medicines. But this progress is being threatened. Since the banks crashed in 2008 funding from rich countries has flat-lined. The lives of millions are hanging on the brink.
The lives of over seven million people living with HIV are at risk because they don’t have access to affordable and effective HIV treatment A massive shortfall of more than £1 billion in funding from rich countries to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria has only exacerbated this problem threatening to push back the huge gains made in the response so far.
Last month Bill Nighy visited Malawi to find out how decisions made on the trading floors of the City of London and Wall Street have meant life or death for millions of people living with HIV.
Malawi is one of the world’s poorest countries. An estimated 1 million people are living with HIV in Malawi, this is 12% of the population. Because of money from the Global Fund Malawi has been able to put 350,000 people on treatment , and infection rates are down 72% since 2004. However, 650,000 are still going without. This is despite the fact it costs just 23 pence a day to keep someone with the HIV virus alive by giving them treatment with Antiretroviral drugs. Malawi faces a huge challenge with sustaining free HIV treatment for its population partially due to the Global Fund lacking enough resources to commit to the country. Should no resources be found by June 2014, Malawi will not be able to continue providing the HIV treatment to its population.
It doesn’t have to be like this. We have the tools and the science, but now we need political will and money. As rich countries scramble to cut their budgets and balance their books on the backs of the world’s poorest people they could choose another way. A Robin Hood tax could raise hundreds of billions, money from which could be used to make sure the next generation is aids free. And that’s something worth fighting for.
Want to know more? Check out the work of RHT members The International HIV/Aids Alliance >>
Or follow #Whystopnow on twitter >>