According to estimates by World Health Organisation and UNAIDS, 33.4 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2008. That same year, some 2.7 million people became newly infected, and 2.0 million died of AIDS, including 280 000 children. Two thirds of HIV infections are in sub-Saharan Africa. HIV/AIDS was identified 30 years ago. Since then, tremendous scientific progress has been made. However, HIV/AIDS is a political disease that affects minority groups because we don’t have the same access to health services, because we face racism and because our sexuality and drug use are discriminated against .
In the last decade, HIV infections among gay and bisexual men have increased by 70% and this is exactly the moment the government has chosen to cut funding for HIV services by 43%.
Instead of improving prevention, we face laws such as the criminalisation of HIV transmission which makes only HIV positive people responsible for the transmission of HIV. This allows people who assume they are HIV negative to think that they can expect their partner to disclose their HIV status and give them a right to reject people with HIV so they can continue to have unsafe sex. We will continue to use condoms because we don’t want to select our sexual partners according to their assumed HIV status. As internationalist and trade unionists, we think it is contrary to our ideals of solidarity and non-discrimination for this to continue.
Criminalisation has always been counter-productive in terms of health and prevention. Criminalising HIV transmission has no real effect to stop HIV infections because many of the new infections actually occur among people who assume their status is negative. In the same way, the criminalisation of sex work and drug use participates in more infections and less access to care and treatment.
People’s health is more important than funding wars and bankers’ bonuses. Our government, the EU and the US must stop using institutions like the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation to impose trade agreements on poorer countries which stop the production and the distribution of generics. By defending intellectual property on HIV medications, western governments and the pharmaceutical industry are killing people for their personal profit. Copyright on medication also has an impact on our own health care system with the NHS having to pay very expensive treatments.
The government cuts not only affect us in the UK but most people living with HIV around the world. The UK government must contribute US$ 1.5b to the Global Fund against HIV, malaria and tuberculosis for the next three years or many more people will die as a result.*
*GENEVA/MANILA, 12 May 2011—Results announced today by the United States National Institutes of Health show that if an HIV-positive person adheres to an effective antiretroviral therapy regimen, the risk of transmitting the virus to an uninfected sexual partner can be reduced by 96%.“This breakthrough is a serious game changer and will drive the prevention revolution forward. It makes HIV treatment a new priority prevention option,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). “Now we need to make sure that couples have the option to choose Treatment for Prevention and have access to it.”
We demand :
- · Free availability of Anti Retrovirals Treatment (ART) in developing countries. End the rationing of ART based on CD4 count.
- · For Government not to threaten the withdraw of humanitarian aid to developing countries as this will hamper medical aid to those most in need of it.
- · No cuts on HIV services, care and prevention
Our health should not be put at risk for profit