terça-feira, junho 13, 2006
Mais sobre 25 anos de SIDA
Perspective: What 25 years of AIDS Has Taught Me
By Eric Sawyer, published by CommonDreams.org
10 June 2006
I have been living with symptoms of HIV/AIDS for 25 years, and I am glad to have survived to see this week's marking of the 25th anniversary of the first recognition of the disease. For these many years I have been able to manage my symptoms and contribute to society by educating others about the disease and advocating for stronger public and private action to end the epidemic.
That's why it troubles me so much to see that many of the lessons of the last 25 years of AIDS are being ignored by policymakers and government officials. While my own medical fight against HIV infection is being won, on a global level, the fight is still being lost.
Over 11,000 people are infected with HIV for the first time every day, despite clear evidence that, when people understand HIV and have the tools to prevent it, infections can be greatly reduced. Over 8,000 people are dying needless deaths every day, despite the fact that we now have the medications to keep them alive.
Why is this happening? The central problem is that a key lesson of the past 25 years - the need to keep ourselves honest in this fight by setting clear timetables for reaching basic goals - is being ignored by world leaders.
Last week's United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS, which I attended, is a case in point. From the outside, this event seemed to represent more progress in the fight against AIDS. Important statements were made, for instance, about the need to end the violence against women that underlies the epidemic in much of the world. But, the meeting failed to produce the clear road map we need to really confront AIDS, in sharp contrast to the UN plan issued in 2001 on the same issue, which included specific milestones.
As an American, it was especially appalling to witness the role of US diplomats at this meeting. I had to watch as they fought to prevent the UN from including the specific, time-bound goals that African governments and civic groups had called for just one month ago at a summit in Nigeria. One of these was to deliver AIDS treatment to 80% of the people who need it in Africa by 2010. While US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said the US approach to AIDS is "rooted in partnership with Africa," the US insisted this clear target be left out of the UN plan.
Another instance of accountability-avoidance struck me as bordering on nonsensical. The American public does not want to see the US shoulder the whole burden of the fight against AIDS. Since the US is already providing a significant share of the resources needed, it would make sense to include a clear global funding commitment in the UN declaration. Then, that promise could be used to help persuade Japan, Canada, countries in Europe, and others, to increase their contributions.
Yet, oddly, the US government refused to go along with setting such a funding commitment. So, while First Lady Laura Bush told the UN session that "The United States looks forward to working with you, and to finally winning the fight against AIDS," just down the hall US diplomats were insisting the UN statement avoid any commitment to provide the funding needed to actually do this. She also spoke in her address of the benefits of the US contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, while, back in Washington, President Bush has proposed cutting this contribution by 45%.
Platitudes and vague promises will not win the fight against AIDS. AIDS could kill 31 million people in India and 18 million in China by 2025, according to projections by the UN. In Africa, the toll could reach 100 million.
To prevent this nightmare from unfolding, we have to admit that the problem today is not primarily technological or medical. It's that we are still not bringing to this fight the level of seriousness and resolve needed to overcome the problem.
We as people who care about the millions suffering and dying have to go beyond more candlelight memorials for those who have died. Instead, let's declare the next 25 years a zone of zero-tolerance for empty rhetoric and insist on results.
Eric Sawyer is the co-founder of ACT-UP New York, an AIDS activist group, and co-founder of Housing Works, the largest provider of housing for people with AIDS in the U.S. Mr. Sawyer has been HIV-positive since 1981.