OF TERRORIST ATTACKS
ON AIDS FUNDING SHORTFALLS
UN envoy berates west for funding war on terror but ignoring AIDS pandemic
WHO plans to quadruple drug supply in Africa
Rory Carroll in Johannesburg The Guardian
September 23, 2003
The UN and World Health Organisation condemned western governments yesterday for neglecting Africa's AIDS pandemic while lavishing money and attention on the war on terrorism.
Stephen Lewis, the UN secretary general's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, denounced as a "grotesque obscenity" the lack of cheap anti-Aids drugs in Africa and warned that millions of orphans would be left traumatised.
"How can this be happening, in the year 2003, when we can find over $200bn (£120bn) to fight a war on terrorism but we can't find the money to prevent children from living in terror?"
He was speaking at the opening of a week-long conference in Nairobi, Kenya, which has gathered 8,000 doctors, researchers, policymakers and activists for a "conference of war" against the disease.
The WHO threw its weight behind Mr Lewis by calling on rich countries to tackle Aids with the same urgency as the Iraq crisis and the Sars outbreak.
Timing its announcement with a UN general assembly session on HIV/Aids, WHO announced an ambitious plan to provide drugs to 3 million people, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa, by the end of 2005: nearly four times the total of all existing projects.
"Business as usual will not work. Business as usual means watching thousands of people die every single day," said Lee Jong-wook, director general of WHO, which aims to use its swift response to Sars as a model for dispatching teams to dozens of countries.
Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, said the political will and money needed to dent the pandemic by 2005 was missing. The shortfall is at least $3bn, the UN says.
Of the 42 million people in the world with HIV, the virus which causes Aids, about 30m are in Africa. About 15 million Africans have died, a toll likely to soar as HIV infection in southern Africa hits 40% of the population.
Despite a steep fall in the price of life-extending anti-retroviral drugs, only 50,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa apparently have access to them.
After a feeble start African governments have moved mountains in recent years but the west has remained mired in the foothills, Mr Lewis said.
"I have to say that what's happening to the continent makes me extremely angry ... I'm enraged by the behaviour of the rich powers. This is a full-blown emergency; in every emergency there is a division of labour. Africa is struggling to hold up its end; the west is not."
Cities and villages across the continent were being reduced to the very young and very old as the middle generation was wiped out, Mr Lewis said.
"Something startling is happening: the increased spiral of adult deaths in so many countries means that the numbers of children orphaned each day is expanding exponentially. Africa is staggering under the load."
The west must ensure that the WHO succeeds in treating 3 million people by 2005, said the UN envoy. "Anything less is an ethical abomination."
The Nairobi gathering is the 13th international conference on Aids and sexually transmitted infections in Africa (Icasa), a major forum held every two years.
Some good news was welcomed. West African states, notably Senegal, have kept infection rates low, and a number of pioneering programmes have had a dramatic impact on treatment and prevention.
But they were flickers in the general gloom. A new report from the World Bank gave a frightening forecast for Malawi: that up to half the professional workforce could die of HIV/Aids by 2005, teachers, nurses and doctors being especially badly affected.
At least 70% of Malawi's hospital beds are occupied by Aids patients and life expectancy has plunged to just 36, according to the UN development programme.
Meanwhile in Johannesburg the former South African president Nelson Mandela called on his country's youth to lead a "social revolution" against the disease similar to the one against apartheid.
Speaking at a youth forum attended by Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder and philanthropist, Mr Mandela said Aids was a disaster which effectively wiped out the development gains of the past decades and sabotaged the future.
Love, support and compassion were tools in this new fight, he said.
"Once more, our people from all backgrounds, genders or age groups shall rally to a call to come together to save our nation from destruction."
from Housing Works AIDS News . and other sources
BUSH PUSHES BIG INCREASE IN MILITARY SPENDING WHILE FLAT-FUNDING KEY AIDS PROGRAMS AND LEAVING STATE BUDGETS BLEEDING: WE TOLD YOU WAR AND PEACE ARE AIDS ISSUES NOW
Last year, the Update warned that the Bush administration's zealous focus on putting the nation onto a permanent war footing would lead to a shortage of resources for crucial domestic needs like HIV/AIDS prevention and care. As you may already know, that's exactly what happening in Washington now: polls indicate the public believes that the President is paying too much attention to the war and not enough to domestic issues, and Bush's budget priorities put war funding over everything else.
President Bush wants $396 billion for war in next year's federal budget: $379 billion for the Defense Department and $16.8 billion for nuclear weapons through the Department of Energy are included in the Defense appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2003. This amounts to a 13% increase above current levels, an increase of about $45.5 billion dollars from 2002 levels that's 45,000 million dollars, just so you know.
And there are more war costs to come. The Congressional Budget Office estimates in its letter to the chairs of the House and Senate Budget Committees that "prosecuting a war" could roughly cost anywhere from $9 to $13 billion dollars a MONTH, but could not give any final figures as to the actual cost of the coming war with Iraq.
In contrast, Bush has proposed the second straight year of flat funding for the Ryan White CARE Act and the Minority AIDS Initiative, two key federal AIDS programs. And he's neglecting the massive need for resources in the fight against the global AIDS pandemic, which is now recognized as a key national security issue. (According to the National Intelligence Council, HIV/AIDS will cause a "humanitarian catastrophe" in Russia, Nigeria, India and China, and is likely to result in dramatic upheavals across Africa, which now provides an increasing portion of America's oil supply.)
Here's a quick list of increases in war spending note that the numbers are in billions, each of which is a thousand million:
Department of Defense:
Military Personnel: 15% increase to $94.2
Operations/Maintenance: 18% increase to $150.2 billion
Procurement: 12% increase to $68.7 billion
Research/Development: 11% increase to $53.9 billion
Military Construction: 27% decrease to $4.8 billion
Housing: 2% increase to $4.2 billion
Other (Administration): 3.3 billion
Department of Energy/Nuclear Weapons: 2.5% increase to $16.8 billion
Now compare that with the following list of mostly flat AIDS spending, and note that the numbers are in millions, each of which is .001 billion:
Ryan White CARE Act:
Title I: 0% increase to $619 million
Title II Base: 0% increase to $338.5 million
Title II ADAP: 0% increase to $639 million
Title III: <1% increase to $194.5 million
Title IV: 0% increase to $71 million
Part F(Dental): 58% increase to $23.4 million
Part F(AETC): 0% increase to $35.3 million
CDC AIDS Programs: 0% increase to $840 million Minority AIDS Initiative: 0% increase to $540 million
One more comparison: the Ballistic Missile Defense (Star Wars) program at $8.9 billion dollars is twice as big as the federal domestic AIDS budget, including research.
The priorities of the Bush administration are clear and getting clearer: trillions more for the war effort, and trillions in tax cuts for the very rich. Meanwhile the fight against AIDS here and abroad is neglected, and millions of people, overwhelmingly people of color, will die. The United States will continue to see 40,000 or more new HIV infections each year, with the epicenter in New York's communities of color. Basic public health programs like safe-sex education and harm reduction and needle exchange programs are frozen, cut or blocked.
Is the public health of this nation unimportant to the President as he ignores the plea of the people to drop the war and pay attention to domestic issues? Increasing infection, increasing medical costs, increasing need for services continue to arrive at this doorstep and he continues to take the money away to give to his war. And make no mistake -- this is HIS war, not the people's war. The people's war belongs to those at home caring, working and advocating for the health and welfare of this nation.
(More information on the Bush war budget is available from the Center for Defense Information at www.cdi.org.).
AIDS INSTITUTE SURVEY OF POST-WTC DAMAGE FINDS POTENTIALLY SERIOUS DAMAGE TO SERVICE DELIVERY; CITES ADDITIVE IMPACT OF TERRORIST ATTACK, FEDERAL FUNDING SHORTFALLS AND INCREASED NEED
A recent survey of the impact of the WTC disaster and related dislocations on New York City AIDS groups has found the potential for serious damage to service delivery. AIDS Institute staff reported to Health Commissioner Dr. Antonia Novello that a combination of factors, including but not limited to the WTC attack, raise concerns about the NYC AIDS care infrastructure.
Many AIDS groups found their services and finances disrupted by the WTC disaster. Some groups suffered physical damage to their offices; many suffered disruptions in services and billing. Fundraising is another big problem many groups have experienced a sharp drop-off in private and foundation giving, and many (including Housing Works) have cancelled events and fundraisers. Housing Works alone has suffered over $250,000 in losses attributable to the WTC disaster and related problems.
But the AIDS Institute reports identify additional problems on the horizon that could combine with these to make things really bad. Federal funding for the Ryan White program is likely to be flat, and new funding distribution standards may reduce the amount of federal AIDS funds headed to New York. We've done a good job of reducing AIDS cases, but have suffered increased HIV infections and increases in service needs. Reduced Ryan White distributions based solely on the number of AIDS cases won't get adequate resources to New York City and State. Combine these problems with the impact of September 11 and you've got a recipe for serious weakening of the AIDS care infrastructure in our state.
NYSDOH officials are still working with federal officials on relief funding for AIDS and other health and human services groups in the wake of the terrorist attack. More on this issue in the coming weeks.
"CALL TO COMMITMENT" - LET CONGRESS KNOW THAT AIDS FUNDING IS STILL CRUCIAL
The terrorist attacks on September 11th affected all of us greatly and left everyone with a range of difficult emotions. It has not been "business as usual" since the 11th for anyone, including HIV/AIDS advocates, who typically spend September and October in the middle of appropriations battles, working hard to ensure that Congress approves the highest possible funding levels for critical HIV/AIDS programs.
Our work, like that of so many others, has been made very difficult by recent events. The political climate in Washington has changed dramatically, and strong bipartisan attention is appropriately focused on responding to the attacks. However, as we all know, the needs of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS continue to be pressing, and Congress will still be acting on appropriations bills that will impact care, treatment, research, housing, and prevention programs and services that greatly affect people living with HIV and those at risk for HIV infection.
While respecting the importance of crafting a response to terrorism and providing for urgent needs of those directly affected by the September 11th attacks, AIDS advocates must also help our elected representatives remember the importance of the fight against AIDS, as they establish funding levels for the upcoming Fiscal Year (October 1, 2001 - September 30, 2002).
Following the terrorist attacks, the planning group looked for ways to organize action that would be both effective and appropriate. After much discussion and input from Congressional staffers, we agreed that it was important and appropriate to move ahead with action in support of increased federal AIDS funding, while being mindful of Congress' focus on the recent attacks. This is especially true since Congressional subcommittees will start "marking up" (voting on funding levels for) HIV/AIDS programs very soon.
Therefore, we urge you to set aside a few minutes during the week of October 1st to call your U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators, and urge them to support the highest possible funding for HIV/AIDS programs.
We recognize that some people may not be
able to call on Monday. Your calls on any day of that week will
significant difference. We also encourage you to thank you members of Congress for their strong bipartisan efforts to deal with the difficult business of responding to the attacks and supporting those who lost so much on September 11th. You may want to combine all of these messages in your phone call, or you may want to just talk about HIV/AIDS funding whatever you choose is entirely appropriate.
Call Your Senators & Representative During The National Call To Commitment
1. Call the Capitol Switchboard at either (202)224-3121 or toll-free (800)648-3516 any day from Monday, October 1 through Friday, October 5th.
2. Ask for your House Member or Senator's office by name. (You will need to make three separate calls to talk to everyone who represents you.)
3. Introduce yourself. Let the office know you live/work in the district.
4. Deliver your request. You can use the sample phone script from below, but remember to personalize your request. Tell the person you speak with why you care about this issue. Are you a consumer afraid of losing services? A friend or family member concerned about a loved one? Are you a provider afraid of losing your ability to provide for the community?
5. Be prepared to have a brief conversation. Refer to the Talking Points if you need to, but remember - your experience makes you the expert. Say what you know; ask for what you need.
HOW TO CONTACT YOUR MEMBER:
Go to the AIDS Action website at www.aidsaction.org
Once at the website, you can enter your zip code to find out the e-mail address and phone number of your Congressional Representative and Senators for your state.
SAMPLE LANGUAGE FOR PHONE CALLS:
"I am calling to thank Representative/Senator__________
leadership and hard work responding to the terrorist attacks on September
11th. Your office has my support and best wishes as you deal with the
aftermath of these events.
"I am also calling as a person greatly
affected by HIV/AIDS. I hope that
Representative/Senator___________ will do everything in his/her own power to
ensure the highest possible increases for all domestic and international
HIV/AIDS programs, including the Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative (MHAI). We
need the continued support and leadership of Congress to help fight this
Click here http://www.napwa.org/pubdocs/NCTCD%20Alert%20927.html to read the official statement of the National Call to Commitment Coalition. Additional information materials, including Talking Points and detailed program and funding information are available at http://www.napwa.org/call_to_commit.htm
October 4, 2001
Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Budget Passes Appropriations Subcommittee
On Wednesday, October 3,
2001, the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Labor,
Health and Human Services and Education marked up the FY2002 funding
bill. The funding levels for HIV/AIDS related programs are listed
below. While we are encouraged by the funding recommendations,
above the President's request, made by the Labor, HHS and Education
subcommittee, we remain cautiously optimistic a final bill is
passed. These levels are a positive first step in the appropriation
of funds to essential
HIV/AIDS services, however, they are still well below the levels recommended by NORA, National Organizations Responding to AIDS. AIDS Action will continue its effort to ensure that the FY2002 budget provides sufficient funding for health care service programs and organizations. Please go to the AIDS Action website at www.aidsaction.org to view the funding levels.
FURTHER ACTION NEEDED:
Successes and Challenges Result from National Call to Commitment
NATIONAL CALL TO COMMITMENT SHIFTS FOCUS TO SENATE
Critical Funding Bill for HIV/AIDS Clears House Subcommittee: Funding Increases Show Power of Grassroots Advocacy
1. By Thursday, October 11, call your Two U.S. Senators with the following message:
"While I am pleased
that the House rejected efforts to cut or flat-fund spending on
our nation needs to allocate more resources to prevent and respond to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
"PLEASE MAKE SURE
THAT THE SENATE INCREASES FEDERAL FUNDING
FOR HIV/AIDS OVER THE HOUSE VERSION OF THE LABOR / HHS BILL."
You can reach
your U.S. Senators by calling the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121
or toll-free at 1-800-648-3516 and asking to be transferred to your Senators' offices.
2. Share this Action Alert with your friends, family members, and colleagues, and urge them to take action too!
3. Go to My Actions! at http://www.napwa.org/my_actions.htm and let us know you took action.
BACKGROUND: On October 3, 2001, a House Subcommittee "marked-up" the Labor-HHS funding bill-setting funding amounts for Federal HIV/AIDS programming in 2002, pending approval by the full House and passage by the Senate.
Although providing much less than needed by communities hard-hit by AIDS nationwide, the mark-up increased federal HIV/AIDS funding over fiscal year 2001 by more than $200 million dollars, providing clear evidence that House members had heard from people all around the country who supported increased AIDS funding. Prior to yesterday, there had been widespread fear of devastating cut-backs to HIV/AIDS programming in 2002, as the Bush Administration had proposed lesser increases, as well as flat-funding for the Ryan White CARE Act. Of particular significance, the mark-up includes a $15 million dollar increase for Title I of the Ryan White CARE Act, a $60 million dollar increase for the Title II ADAP program, and a $41 million dollar increase for HIV/AIDS Prevention activities through the Centers for Disease Control. (A text chart appears at the end of this message.)
While the mark-up is a political victory in the House for people affected by HIV/AIDS, federal funding continues to be inadequate to meet the prevention, care, research and support needs of the HIV-positive population -- which in the U.S. alone is growing by 40,000 people each year. Advocates for sound HIV/AIDS policy and funding must now turn their attention to protecting and enhancing the increases proposed by the House subcommittee, as the bill moves forward through the full House and the Senate.
You can find additional information resources about the markup at:
House Appropriations Committee website http://www.house.gov/appropriations/news/2002/02lhsub.htm
Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Reports http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/rep_hiv.cfm#7298
For more information and ways to get involved in the National Call To Commitment, please go to http://www.napwa.org/call_to_commit.htm
or contact: Jean-Michel Brevelle,
Associate Director for Policy,NAPWA (National Association of People with AIDS)
1413 K St, NW, 7th Floor, Washington, DC 20005 phone: 202/898-0414 ext. 124; fax 202/898-0435
email: firstname.lastname@example.org website: http://www.napwa.org/
TEXT CHART - Funding levels from House Appropriations Labor/HHS
subcommittee: Oct. 3, 2001 (m=millions of dollars) Figures have been rounded up for easier reading.
[webmaster's note: sorry about the format...will clean it up soon]
PROGRAM FY 2001 FY2002
Amount of Increase
CARE Act (total) + $112 m $1,808 m $1,920 m
Title I: + $ 15 m $604.2 m $619.2 m
Title II - care services + $ 15 m $322.m $33.7m
Title II - ADAP + $ 60 m $589.m $649. m
Title III + $7 m $185.9 m $192.9 m
Title IV + $5 m $65.m $70.m
Part F: Dental + $5 m $10.m $15.m
Part F: AETCs + $5 m $31.m $36.m
CBC Minority AIDS Initiative* + $ 37 m
$ 350. m 387.m
(These figures are included in figures stated for the CARE Act, CDC
and other programs.)
SAMHSA + 60 m $1,665. m $1,725.m
(Substance Abuse Prevention
and Treatment Block Grant)
Other programs (we are unable to express these in the chart format above at this time):
CDC HIV/AIDS Prevention (domestic) increased by $41 million
CDC HIV/AIDS Prevention (global) increased by $33 million
NIH Research (all programs) funded at $ 23, 874 million overall, increase of $2.5 billion
Oppose attempts to sneak through a bill on fast track trade authority. Fast Track trade authority gives the President sweeping powers to negotiate trade agreements, meaning Congress gets only a thumbs-up or thumbs-down vote once the Bush Administration has decided all the details. The Bush Administration has continued to push harmful positions in FTAA, WTO and other trade negotiations that would continue to block greater access to HIV/AIDS medication, and fast track is a rubber-stamping of their willingness to write off the lives of people with HIV worldwide. see more >>>
September 11th Must Not Be a Signal
of Retreat from the Global War Against HIV/AIDS
The views of the writer, Robert E. Lovelace, are his own.
Washington, D.C.B The death toll from the terrorist attacks on September 11th, is nearly 6000 in New York City. The images from the shocking attacks brought into America homes again and again have deeply personalized this human tragedy. Understandably, our government is now focused on meeting the threat of terrorism as never been before. Yet, the simple fact is that, the New York death toll is only approaching the global death toll resulting from AIDS each and every day.
In the U.S. we still search for answers to the questions of how this act of terrorism could have possibly happened. What could motivate any individual to hijack jetliners filled with innocent civilians and hurl them into buildings where men and women were going about their daily lives? Why did they believe that destroying these symbols of American financial and military might would serve a purpose? Who are these people, so filled with hopelessness to find hope in the notion that killing innocent people would advance their cause? When did they reach the conclusion that what they did was the best course to right whatever grievances they harbored?
To Americans and others in industrialized countries, finding the answers to these questions will not be easy. What motivates terrorists is obscured by cultural perceptions that are clearly radically different from our own. We cannot afford to let the search for the answers get lost as we embark on the protracted struggle to find the perpetrators of this unspeakable crime. There are clues as to why people would do such a thing and they must be recognized.
In the 1980s U.S. military aid flowed furiously to the tune of billions of dollars directed towards building the capacity of an armed force capable of driving the Soviets out of Afghanistan. To do so, we enlisted the help of some very unsavory people including Osama bin-Laden. Once the Soviets were driven out, the U.S. and others, who supported the efforts of what were then known as Afghan freedom-fighters promptly quit the field. The West having raised expectations for a better way of life, took a walk after we got what we wanted, leaving a residue of abandonment and betrayal. This is not to point fingers at any particular administration, the short-sightedness of American foreign assistance has long plagued the efforts of both parties for years.
Into this environment ripe for exploitation steps the likes of bin-Laden, a megalomaniac with big money, promising hope to the hopeless, offering up the U.S. as a villain upon which to focus hatred and a warped interpretation of the Koran to serve his murderous ends by killing innocent civilians. Biting the hand that fed him, bin-Laden pointed to American financial might as the central reason that the poor continued to be poor and stated that the Islamic world was on the road to hell because of our very presence in Islamic countries. We now know that his potent brew of messages continues to resonate in his haven in Afghanistan in nearby Pakistan, and in at least 60 countries around the world. Each of these countries is now a breeding-ground for would-be terrorists.
Many Americans do not think much about what happens beyond U.S. borders until TV networks repeatedly flash the pictures of a crisis before our eyes. When America slides on commitments or unceremoniously moves onto another priority, often the only people who know are the ones who have been let down. At the same time we do know about other problems- like the massive gap in wealth between rich and poor countries- but we have done little about these disparities. Despite the fact that warnings have been repeatedly sounded that this disparity is creating an increasingly unstableinternational environment. History has taught us, or should have anyway, that into these gaps step people armed with scapegoats who offer simple solutions to the hopeless and the desperate.
To understand special significance that the wealth gap poses as severe potential threat, one need only turn to the current issue of AForeign Affairs,@ where M. A. Thomas writes that AToday 41 of the world's poorest countries are bankrupt. These nations, identified by the World Bank as "heavily indebted poor countries" (HIPCs), owe some $ 170 billion to foreign creditors, while half of their 600 million citizens get by on less than $ 1 a day. Nine out of ten HIPCs cannot sustain their debts, given their low export earnings and GNPs. Unless some of this debt is forgiven, they will be paying in perpetuity.
HIV/AIDS, a health crisis of catastrophic global proportions, has been tossed into this simmering cauldron of economic despair. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the epicenter of the pandemic, there are no signs, as of now, that AIDS is causing terrorism to take root. Yet, most of these countries are burdened with crushing debt and face a future of deaths by the disease on an unprecedented scale.
It is a sure sign that society as we know it is imperiled when funerals for AIDS patients in Sub-Saharan Africa would number two or three a minute if held round the clock. People in the prime of their most productive years from all walks of lifeBthose who govern, those who teach, those who care for the sick, those who run the businesses, those who do the work and those who care for the very young and oldBare the ones that are being stricken down in the greatest numbers. It should be clear by now that these factors are the ingredients for a recipe that will unravel the threads of the very fabric of societies as we know them.
According to UNAIDS the disease of AIDS will kill 1/3 of all 15 year olds in some countries in Africa. A recent study estimates that in 1997, public health spending for AIDS alone already exceeded 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 7 of 16 African countries sampled - a staggering figure in nations where total health spending accounts for 3-5% of GDP. Into this mix where survival is determined by wealth, we must add the surviving children of those condemned to die. Current estimates place these numbers in the range of 45 million AIDS orphans. Africa has already given us some sign of the slaughter that can result when marauding bans of children--either lured or coerced--become soldiers.
We know that AIDS kills with impunity, rich and poor alike, but who lives is determined by who can afford to seek treatment and care. People who cannot access the very basics of care will die. We also know that people who seek redress by legal and other means when deprived of their human rights, denied employment or fired from their jobs or turned away from treatment and care, are separated according to who can afford to fight for their rights and those who cannot.
For the poor this is hardly a breeding ground of hope, but Sub-Saharan Africa is only part of the bleak picture the future holds as the pandemic progresses. In the teeming populations of India and China, to provide just two examples, the warning signs of pending AIDS explosions are clear. So in the post-September 11th environment what must AIDS advocates do?
First, we need to recognize that our nations first priority is to eradicate terrorism. This is a task without military precedent. The U.S. has never engaged in what military strategists call low-intensity conflict on a global scale. The long struggle will likely mean more U.S. casualties and cases where enemies are defeated only to be replaced by new ones, so long as the breeding grounds of terrorism are allowed to thrive. If unchecked, HIV/AIDS will leave millions in misery, despair and without hope--the perfect breeding ground for terrorism.
Second, we need to remain true to our course in seeking resources to fight the AIDS pandemic. We must do this regardless of where the attention of policy-makers is focused in the short term. No matter what happens in any other arena AIDS deaths and misery will continue on a massive scale creating an increasingly unstable environment in many regions of the world.
Third, we need to advocate for increased non-military foreign assistance and debt relief to eliminate the breeding grounds of terrorism. We must stress that the U.S. response to terrorism needs to be holistic and inspire leadership and hope for those who lack the resources to help themselves. In the struggle against terrorism there will great destruction. America must be seen also as a nation that builds. A critical component of a holistic approach in foreign assistance will be to address the issue of health. Few issues are as fundamentally important.
Fourth, AIDS advocates need to come closer together while simultaneous seeking to expand our reach both at home and abroad. One of the greatest virtues of Americans is the way we as citizens are ready to roll up our sleeves to help in a crisis. Many do not know how to respond to the AIDS crisis, and we must teach them. We also need to look for international partners in countries engaged in the war against terrorism, because they too should seek a holistic approach to help heal the breeding grounds of terrorism.
Fifth, we need to participate in achieving national priorities while responsibly striving for excellence in government and non-governmental efforts to eradicate HIV/AIDS. We need to communicate better and be viewed as those who are seeking the smartest ways to fight the pandemic. We need to build partnerships whenever possible with government and among ourselves because at the end of the day we are all in this together.
Just days ago the prospects for progress in fighting the global pandemic were looking better. September 11th, radically altered the field, but we cannot allow this to be a reason to walk away, dashing the hopes and expectations that have been raised. Yes, we do need to gather together and take stock of how to achieve our goal of defeating the disease that will keep on killing, but the last thing we should do is to retreat. We cannot stand still and let HIV/AIDS create a climate where more desperate people are driven to acts of the kind we have just witnessed.
These are the views of the writer Robert E. Lovelace from www.globalaidsalliance.org
ADVOCATES PUSH FOR DISASTER RELIEF FOR AIDS GROUPS HIT BY SEPT. 11 IMPACTS
State and City officials met with representatives from several AIDS service and advocacy groups in New York City last Friday to discuss the fiscal impact of September 11 on NYC AIDS service providers. Advocates urged government help for AIDS groups hit by the disaster, including funding to pay for increased service needs, infrastructure repair, and disruptions in services and billing.
Groups at the meeting, which was convened by the New York AIDS Coalition, included Housing Works, Harlem United, Bailey House, the NYC AIDS Housing Network, and the African Services Committee. Housing Works staff presented preliminary results of our recent survey of September 11 impacts on local AIDS groups: 11 responding organizations could account for $1.39 million in losses. (If your group has been hit, we're still working on the survey see item 8 below.) The New York City AIDS Housing Network gave the details of a survey of its members on the impact of September 11, with over 75% of groups reporting an economic impact and 80% reporting changes in client behavior, attitude and service needs.
It's clear that a number of AIDS groups have been hit hard by the impact of September 11, and it's also clear that some groups have been hit hard but haven't yet been able to calculate and document how hard they've been hit. NYAC, Housing Works, Harlem United, Bailey House, NYCAHN and other groups will be working for disaster relief funding to keep our AIDS service, care and prevention programs strong. If you'd like to join the effort, email Mark Hayes at email@example.com.
HOUSING WORKS RELEASES AIDS POLICY ROADMAP FOR NEWLY ELECTED NYC OFFICIALS, INCLUDING BLOOMBERG AND CITY COUNCIL REPS
As part of our World AIDS Day vigil, Housing Works released a comprehensive guide to AIDS in New York City targeted at newly elected city officials including Mayor-elect Michael Bloomberg and dozens of new City Council members.
The report, "AIDS in New York City: A Roadmap for Sound Public Policies" includes details of current AIDS demographics, outlines HIV/AIDS programs, services and funding, and makes specific recommendations for reforms and improvements in New York City's fight against the epidemic. It's on our website at www.housingworks.org/issues.htm.
According to the report, "New York City is "ground zero" of the AIDS epidemic in America. We have more AIDS cases and more HIV infections than anywhere else in the nation."
There are currently 43,970 New Yorkers living with AIDS, and over a hundred thousand more infected with the HIV virus. People of color have made up a majority of AIDS cases here since 1984. Blacks, Latinos, Asian Americans and Native Americans are disproportionately affected by AIDS; they make up 56 percent of New York City's population, but 79% of our people living with AIDS.
The report praised some efforts, but criticized the outgoing Giuliani administration for its failure "to provide resources, administer programs, and even comply with legal mandates crucial to an effective fight against AIDS."
Some of the recommendations include:
* Increasing spending for HIV/AIDS prevention and care programs targeting communities of color.
* Creating new housing for individuals and families living with AIDS and HIV disease.
* Allowing the use of City tax-levy for the purchase of clean syringes.
* Committing city tax-levy monies for the administration of the Office of AIDS Policy Coordination.
* Dropping unfounded appeals of court decisions imposed to protect homeless people Living with AIDS.
* Ensuring fast and effective provision of emergency housing to individuals and families living with AIDS and HIV who need it.
* Exempting welfare beneficiaries living with HIV (including asymptomatic HIV) from workfare and welfare sanctions.
"Our City needs our newly elected leaders
to recognize the reality of HIV/AIDS here in New York. We need
leaders who can recognize and acknowledge the human toll this
epidemic has had on our City and our people. But we also need
leaders who can recognize and acknowledge that we can and must
do much better in fighting AIDS. We need truth, we need commitment,
and we need the real resources that can make a real difference,"
said Keith Cylar, co-executive director of Housing Works.