The Global AIDS Crisis: An Uphill Battle


The Global AIDS Crisis: An Uphill Battle

June 13, 2008

In November 2007, UNAIDS revised its estimates of people living with HIV/AIDS. The number, originally set at 40 million, was decreased to 33 million. With this reduction came cries that less funding should be dedicated to fighting the pandemic.

The unfortunate reality is that people living with HIV/AIDS are by no means universally protected. A joint report released recently under the auspices of the World Health Organization, UNAIDS and UNICEF revealed that only 31% of people with HIV/AIDS in low- and middle-income countries are able to access antiretroviral treatment.

While this number presents a rise in the availability of treatment since 2007, it indicates that the vast majority of those with HIV/AIDS in the developing world still cannot access these life-saving drugs. With only 20% of those infected aware of their status, HIV/AIDS will not disappear anytime soon. And until ongoing social injustices around the world are addressed, the root causes of the pandemic will persist.

"Universal Action Now" is the theme of the upcoming International AIDS Conference (IAC), to be held in Mexico City this August. The first IAC to be held in Latin America, the conference underscores the importance of an interconnected strategy on HIV/AIDS that addresses the pandemic's connections to lack of health care, education and gender equality.

The mission of AJWS complements this strategy. AJWS funds innovative projects and organizations that are addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic from the ground up. Working with the developing world's most marginalized and vulnerable populations, these organizations are making a marked difference in the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS:

Kratie Women Welfare Association (KWWA): In Cambodia, many people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) face high levels of social stigma and discrimination, as do their families. KWWA provides home care support to PLWHA in cooperation with two health centers, while providing training sessions to communities on combating discrimination. KWWA is currently providing HIV/AIDS education, care and support to 19 villages in Cambodia.

LGTB Asociación Arcoiris: In Honduras, Arcoiris ("Rainbow") supports lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual people to become health and human rights promoters. The Arcoiris Rainbow House provides a safe space for HIV/AIDS prevention and peer support, cultural activities and vocational training. Arcoiris and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have worked together for the past year to develop a pioneering clinic bringing HIV/AIDS services to LGTB community members. As part of the clinic's success, Arcoiris will now be solely responsible for the clinic's management.

Traditional and Modern Health Practitioners Together Against AIDS and Other Diseases (THETA): In Uganda, THETA trains traditional healers in the skills necessary for sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS education, counseling, prevention and patient care and support. To date, THETA has initiated more than 40 community support groups, where traditional healers work with local communities to support PLWHA, orphans, widows and families affected by HIV/AIDS.

Far from reducing funding due to statistical changes, AJWS is committed to keeping the fight against AIDS at the forefront of our struggle for global justice. To learn more about our HIV/AIDS funding across the globe, please click here.