AMSTERDAM--(BUSINESS WIRE)--On the eve of the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam (AIDS2018), AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) challenges the world to renew the sense of urgency around the global AIDS response. Under its “Keep the Promise” campaign banner, AHF cites a persistently high number of new HIV infections, decreased funding, inadequate access to antiretroviral treatment for millions of people, lack of legal protections and service for women, and neglect of proven prevention methods as the reasons for once again sounding the worldwide alarm.
To illustrate the ongoing impact of the AIDS epidemic on global public health and to make the message more relatable to the general public, AHF has placed provocative advocacy messages across Amsterdam to coincide with the conference, which draws over 20,000 attendees ranging from HIV/AIDS scientists, researchers, and medical providers to advocates, people living with HIV/AIDS, and pharmaceutical industry executives and staff. Several of these social advertisements say, “AIDS Yearly Deaths: 1 million. Amsterdam Population: 900,000,” to remind conference-goers and city residents of how dire the global situation remains despite more than three decades of progress.
“At a time when HIV is no longer perceived by the majority of people in North America and Western Europe as a crisis, it remains a deadly virus in many parts of the world. Annually, one million die of AIDS-related causes and 1.8 million people become newly infected with HIV around the world – this is a staggering human tragedy that few people are talking about,” said Dr. Penninah Iutung, AHF Africa Bureau Chief. “As the largest global AIDS organization with over 30 years of advocacy and clinical experience, operations in 41 countries and 950,000 patients in our care, we feel an obligation to put this message front-and-center at the conference – especially since it is taking place far from where the crisis is raging.”
While the number of new infections remains high and the need for access to antiretroviral treatment keeps growing, the amount of money available to provide services, medicines and clinical care for people living with HIV is decreasing. According to the latest data from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, global development assistance for HIV/AIDS has declined by nearly $3 billion between 2012 and 2017.
“Among the countries that have been hardest hit by funding cuts are the so-called Middle-Income Countries (MIC). The World Bank considers MICs wealthy enough to take care of their own AIDS financing, even though they have Gross National Income per capita of as little as $2.76 per day,” said Terri Ford, AHF Chief of Global Advocacy and Policy. “You can’t even get proper nutrition for this kind of money, so how are these countries expected to provide HIV care without outside help? We are coming to Amsterdam to demand that the world stop retreating on global AIDS funding. This is a global epidemic that requires a global effort to overcome – that’s what our ‘Keep the Promise’ message is all about.”
In light of the epidemic’s trajectory and global funding challenges – and despite optimistic reports highlighting progress as part of the global 90-90-90 strategy to end AIDS by 2030 – AHF says a critical look at the accuracy of the global epidemiological data is needed, along with the reexamination of many practical problems that still remain in rolling out treatment, testing and prevention services to millions of people, many of whom are socially and economically marginalized. AHF is organizing an expert panel discussion during the conference on Wednesday, July 25 at 18:30 – 20:30 in Hall 10 of the RAI Convention Center, called “AIDS Reality Check: Are We Even Close?” Among the key speakers on the panel will be the United States Global AIDS Coordinator and Ambassador-at-Large Deborah L. Birx, as well as Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, the world’s first openly gay prince from India.
AHF’s other satellite sessions will include a panel on effective and attractive public health marketing titled “Making Safer Sex Sexy in 2018” on Monday, July 23 at 17:00 – 19:00 in Room E105-108 and a session titled “Girls & Women: Under Attack in a Man’s World” on Tuesday, July 24 at 18:30 – 20:30 in Hall 11A, which will feature UNAIDS senior staffer Martina Brostrom and include first-hand accounts from women of diverse backgrounds, ages and HIV statuses on how they confront and triumph over challenges associated with reproductive health, discrimination and human rights violations.
AHF will also host exhibition booth #307 at the convention center in Exhibition Hall 1 for the duration of the conference where delegates will have an opportunity to meet the organization’s global staff and learn more about its lifesaving work. In the Global Village, AHF will host community booth #650 featuring an innovative virtual reality experience focused on “Girls Act!” – its young women and girls empowerment campaign.
“In recent years the conference has become too much like an expensive, sleek trade show for pharma companies, instead of being about urgency, activism and real transformative action – this needs to change, or else the millions of dollars that go into organizing them can be spent on providing lifesaving treatment and care,” said Zoya Shabarova, AHF Europe Bureau Chief. “We’re coming to Amsterdam with advocacy in our hearts and minds, whether it be challenging pharma greed, taking on abuse and sexual harassment within the UN system, or fighting on behalf of people who need lifesaving treatment. Our message is clear – the world must ‘Keep the Promise’ AIDS!”
Interviews are available upon request.
About AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 950,000 people in 41 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare.