AMSA Health Policy Chair
“15 million by 2015”, “Treat AIDS, Stop the Virus”, “Keep your promise”, “mag aan die mense (Power to the People)” these are just a few of the cheers that were echoed across the walls of the United Nations (UN) Building in New York City on Wednesday by hundreds of HIV/TB/Malaria advocates to those delegates meeting at UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS. As Assembly members exited their shiny black delegate cars, they received a resounding reminder of the important decisions that would be voted upon in the coming days.
The demands by those attending the rally included: full funding to end AIDS, respect for human rights for all people, 15 million people on AIDS treatment by 2015, an end to trade deals that put profits and patents ahead of lives, adopt International Declaration on Poverty, Housing Instability and HIV/AIDS, cut tuberculosis death among People Living with HIV/AIDS by at least 50 percent, elimination of new infections from injection drug use and mother to child transmission, and reduction of HIBV infections via sex by 50 percent.
Simple enough, especially considering that this comes on the heels of exciting new science that shows that when people living with HIV are on treatment they are 96 percent less likely to transmit HIV to their partners.
Sadly, the PEPFAR program only plans to treat “more than 4 million people” by 2013. President Obama’s budget request is the smallest increase ever for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program—just 0.5 percent for Fiscal Year 2012, far off track toward meeting the President's own funding promises with warnings to PEPFAR country directors across Africa to plan for "painful cuts next year."
According to UNAIDS, committing to a modest increase now will avoid a much longer term investment as well as the chance to prevent 12 million infections and save 7 million lives.
Likewise, activists also voiced concern that while the U.S. continues to roll out AIDS treatment, it is simultaneously seeking to negotiate trade deals what would undermine access to less expensive, generic versions of new drugs.
On the General Assembly’s last day of meeting, it appeared that the United States will endorse a new AIDS treatment goal to reach 15 million people with anti-retroviral drugs by 2015. This plan aims to increase global AIDS financing by $6 billion per year globally—from a combination of donor and national funding. Although this is a step forward, plans are just political declarations until a concrete plan is executed and many issues still remain, but we are one……