World AIDS Week 2011

Today kicks off World AIDS Week 2011! Check out a listing of Columbia campus events here, including our panel on Thursday night which is open to the public–if you are in NYC, please consider attending as tickets are only a $7 donation and you will surely be inspired by our speakers, such as the founder of Aid for AIDS Jesus Aguais and the founder of the Columbia Gay Health Advocacy Project (an amazing organization that provides free testing and was a locus for on-campus organizing in the early years of the pandemic) Laura Pinsky. Here’s the week calendar event page: http://www.facebook.com/events/247580028636663/

If you’re on campus, please stop by Low to check us out all week–we’re making a public art project to raise awareness (and funds) to end AIDS.

Next, some bad news: cuts from donor nations have forced the Global Fund to cancel its most recent round of grants. 

The effects have terrible consequences for the vital programs that depend on the Global Fund: 

The group Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) called the cancelation of grants “an unprecedented event which will have a direct impact on tens of thousands of people living with HIV.

According to MSF, more than 70 percent of antiretroviral drugs in the developing world are funded by the Global Fund. In Africa, the fund finances about 85 percent of TB programs. 

“The impact of the cancelation halts progress in fighting the epidemic in countries facing the brunt of the epidemic,” MSF said.

The group added: “The dramatic resource shortfall comes at a time when the latest HIV science shows that HIV treatment itself not only saves lives, but is also a critical form of preventing the spread of the virus, and governments are making overtures that there could be an end to the AIDS epidemic.”

So, what can you do? For starters, you can sign the petition at http://treataidsendaids.org/ to demand that President Obama scale up funding for HIV treatment now. Treatment was demonstrated to be prevention, so investing in wide-scale treatment now, despite the economic crisis, will save millions of lives and avert millions of new infections. On top of that, it will actually save us money in the long run by slowing the transmission of HIV, requiring increasingly fewer people to be treated until the pandemic can finally be ended by about 2041–30 in, 30 out!. 

Also, please call the White House Comment Line at (202) 456-1111 and let President Obama know that you are hoping for his strong commitment to increase HIV treatment funding and be the president who ends AIDS. I’d definitely suggest mentioning the cancellation of Global Fund grants, as well as the target of 6 million people on treatment by 2013. Here’s a script for some inspiration:

Hello, my name is _____. I’m calling

to urge President Obama to increase HIV treatment funding to put 6 million people on treatment by 2013. President Obama has flat-lined funding in previous budget requests. If he instead increases his funding request for 2012 to reach the goal of 6 million people on treatment by 2013, we could end AIDS by 2041. Will President Obama commit to increase HIV treatment funding and become the president to end AIDS? Thank you.

Expect more updates this week! 

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