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We have come too far to turn back now… Why Stop Now?

November 22, 2012

Join the Why Stop Now campaign this World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is fast approaching. On the 1st December people from all over the world will unite against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and remember those who we have lost.

This World AIDS Day marks a critical moment in the global HIV response. This year we need to remind our government that HIV has not gone away.

We have made huge progress since HIV was first identified over 30 years ago. What used to take a decade to achieve we can now do in the space of just 24 months. Today there are 8 million people in low and middle-income countries now accessing HIV treatment, compared to just 400,000 in 2003. A drop in investment would reverse this progress. And there are still 7.6 million people still without the treatment they urgently need. What’s more, we now have treatment available which prevents almost all babies from being born with HIV. But because people couldn’t access the right services 330,000 babies were still born with HIV in 2011.

We have made some amazing progress. However, if we take our foot of the pedal and slow up now all these efforts might have been in vain. And it’s not just about the risk of undoing all our achievements to date; it is also about what we could achieve. With the right investment 7.4 million AIDS-related deaths and 12.2 million new infections could be averted by 2020.

I mentioned that we are at critical moment in the global HIV response. That is because a tipping point in the epidemic in now within reach, and what I mean by a tipping point is that we will see more people on treatment than there are new HIV infections, curbing the growth of the epidemic. If we scale up the response now, and see that tipping point passed, we can save billions in future investment and save countless lives. Alternatively, missing this tipping point could see costs balloon and the epidemic continue to grow.

So… Why Stop Now?

It might be very easy to think that HIV is an overseas problem. But that is just not the case. By the end of this year it is estimated that there will be 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK. Yet there has been no UK-wide strategy for HIV since 2010.

I have witnessed the impact of the lack of a proper strategy has had in my local community.

Funding cuts have meant hat the Crescent Support Group, a support service in St Albans, have had to cut down on their walk-in clinic services. What’s more, the Crescent are still supporting more than 300 people without the funding to do this and they have seen a five-fold increase in people seeking HIV-testing compared to the same period in the last year.  And they continue to see referrals from various health and social care agencies, plus people seeking help, advice, training and support.

The lack of investment has meant the Crescent has been at risk of closing down. This would have a terrible impact not only on St Albans, but for the West side of Hertfordshire, where the Crescent is the main  HIV service provider.

That is why, this World AIDS Day, we need to call on the government to annoucne they will develop blueprints mapping how they will lead the HIV response both in the UK and globally. A blueprint would map the UK contribution in developing the interventions necessary to ensure:

  • we reach that tipping point
  • we achieve a generation where no one dies of AIDS or is newly infected with HIV
  • the rights of people living with or affected by HIV are upheld

How to get involved

You can get involved in the campaign in a number of ways:

  1. Write to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to announce they will develop a blueprint, mapping how they will lead the HIV response both in the UK and globally, on 1st December. Just fill in your name and email address to add your signature to the Why Stop Now letter at  www.whystopnow.org.
  2. Create some noise online. You could send a Tweet: Join the conversation around World AIDS Day. We’ve come too far to turn back now #WhyStopNow www.whystopnow.org.
  3. Talk to your MP. A great way of getting the campaign at the top of the political agenda is to meet with your MP.

The HIV response has the potential to be one of the greatest investment success stories in development. But we need the UK to commit and be the champion of the response it once was. Sign the petition now and lend your voice to the Why Stop Now campaign.

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One Comment
  1. Tina de Souza permalink

    Great bia x

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