The gathering - the UN High-Level Meeting on AIDS - took place during the 30th anniversary of the discovery of AIDS. Participants included government leaders, grassroots groups and activists from thirty nations.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pushed for international commitment to end AIDS by 2020, according to IRIN. The goal, he said, was “zero new infections, zero stigma, and zero AIDS-related deaths.” On day three, the group agreed specific goals to reach by 2015. These included the commitment to:
- Double the number of people receiving antiretroviral treatment to 15 million
- Eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmission
- Cut in half tuberculosis-related deaths of people living with HIV
- Expand preventive measures for highly vulnerable populations.
Whilst AIDS activists at the summit applauded the bold goals, they expressed concern and scepticism about funding. UNAIDS says an additional $6 billion is needed beyond the $10 billion currently spent on AIDS. Commitments by individual governments to contribute money to combat global AIDS are not always honoured and most low-income nations are unable to stem the spread of AIDS without such assistance.
Non-profit organisations including SOS Children work hard on the ground to support children affected by AIDS and to spread community-level AIDS awareness among children and families. Stigma against HIV-positive children and those orphaned by AIDS is common. In traditional societies, where discrimination and poverty cut off access to care and education for such children, SOS step in to help.
Through SOS Family Strengthening Programmes, SOS support thousands of children and families whose lives have been affected by HIV/AIDS across Africa. “My parents both died of AIDS within six months,” says 14-year-old Moussa* from Niamey in Niger. “There was no hope of going to school as there was no one to pay my school fees.” Through the Family Strengthening Programme, SOS give the opportunity of an education to thousands of children like Moussa. SOS pay school fees and supplies children with books and school uniforms. As well as providing educational support, SOS Children offer medical assistance to those with the disease, and run preventative programmes, including anti-AIDS clubs for young people to raise awareness in the community (see photo, right). Read more about our work with those affected by HIV/AIDS.
*to protect his privacy, Moussa’s name has been changed.