1st of December, World Aids day
As another 1st of December comes and goes we need to stop and look at what our efforts are achieving and ask ourselves if we are on the right path to eliminating HIV/AIDS. Sadly we don’t seem to be succeeding, indeed, because of political indecision and the blanket implementation of austerity for the sake of austerity, we are starting to go backwards. As a progressive political family, we cannot allow this to happen.
Recent research indicates that the number of young people living with HIV in Europe is increasing . How can this be happening in the richest continent on earth? HIV counselling and testing services need to be continuously promoted and accessible to ensure earlier diagnosis and timely initiation of HIV treatment and care. PES Women President, Zita Gurmai MEP, who has fought continuously for the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) says “HIV is still a fatal and very infectious virus, therefore more investment in education and prevention is needed to halt the rise in the number of new infections”.
The UN AIDS report from 2012 tells us that more effort is needed to reach the Millennium Development Goals on HIV prevention by 2015, the deadline agreed upon. If universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support is to be reached within this timeframe, there needs to be a dramatic increase in the level of funding for HIV and AIDS treatment. Estimates suggest the cost of funding the global HIV/AIDS response will reach almost US$24 billion per year by 2015 . The EU must live up to the commitments it made to achieve the Millennium Development goals by 2015. Furthermore more funding needs to be made available to develop new treatments which can be rolled out as quickly as possible. “Delays cost lives” says Ms Gurmai, “Every 20 seconds someone dies of an AIDS-related illness, political inaction and reversing spending is killing people.”
In countries under harsh austerity programmes, even the heath sector is not immune from the ideology of cuts. In some cases the funding for HIV drugs has been reduced and some vulnerable citizens are not receiving the medicine they need. Moreover according to a study of the University of Athens, in EU states which are heavily affected by the crisis the number of homeless people and drug addicted people are rising. Since they are high risk groups for HIV infection, often unfairly excluded, this is leading to a rising rate of infection. We need an end to austerity for the sake of austerity alone; victims of HIV/AIDS did not cause the crisis, yet they are suffering from the consequences.
On the 1st of December 2014, when world AIDS day comes around again, we hope we will be congratulating the European Union for taking real steps to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS.