The AIDS emergency is fast becoming one of the worst health catastrophes in human history. Already, twenty five million people have died from AIDS. Around the world, more than forty-two million people are now infected with the virus that causes AIDS. Every day 14,000 people are infected and 8,500 people die. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, 30 million people are infected, and 13 countries have infection rates greater than 10% of the adult population. AIDS is decimating an entire generation.
Compounding the urgency of the situation are the secondary aspects of the AIDS crisis. AIDS has killed or incapacitated 7 million agricultural workers so that even without serious drought conditions, 15 million people are at risk of starvation this year. In addition, high rates of HIV/AIDS among teachers, law enforcement personnel, health care staff, and other workers threatens the economic security and future of many countries in the developing world. Moreover, 14 million children have lost at least 1 parent to the virus, dooming a second generation to poverty. Additionally, tuberculosis and malaria, two deadly diseases in their own right, are responsible for more than half of all AIDS deaths in the developing world, and together AIDS, TB, & malaria kill 6 million people every year.
The scope of the crisis is such that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell recently said: “AIDS is more devastating than any terrorist attack, any conflict, or any weapon of mass destruction… AIDS shatters families, tears the fabric of societies, and undermines governments. AIDS can destroy countries and destabilize entire regions.” Moreover, the epicenter of the AIDS crisis has begun to shift, as India, Russia, and China face the next wave of millions of AIDS infections.
In the face of this tragedy, there is new hope. The antiretroviral (ARV) drugs that are widely available in the developed world have reduced AIDS-related death rates by more than 80% and have reduced Mother-To-Child transmission rates. Access to these drugs has resulted in an increased life expectancy to more than 10 years following diagnosis. Furthermore, with the introduction of high quality generic drugs, the cost of delivering ARVs to the 4.1 million people in Africa and those in other countries who need them has decreased dramatically in recent years. In addition, nine candidate vaccine concepts are in or about to enter various stages of clinical trials around the world. However, many pharmaceutical companies around the world are still creating barriers that prevent the production, importation, and exportation of generic drugs. Finally, in some countries ravaged by HIV/AIDS, governments have been slow to respond to the crisis and resistant to providing treatment in the public sector.
THE JCPA THEREFORE RESOLVES TO:
- Commend those governments, international organizations, and private foundations that have taken the lead in combating the global AIDS pandemic and call upon the United States government and governments and non-governmental organizations around the world to commit to funding a need-based response to the global AIDS pandemic;
- Call on the United States to contribute an amount commensurate to its relative wealth, as measured by the World Bank, to the global effort to combat AIDS, TB, and Malaria, without restrictions which limit options for treatment and prevention programs;
- Support efforts to combat the global AIDS pandemic that integrate comprehensive, science-based prevention strategies, especially the search for effective, low cost and universally available vaccines; access to life-saving medications; and universal AIDS related education;
- Support efforts to combat the global AIDS pandemic that incorporate a comprehensive response to the growing orphan crisis, including universal access to education, housing, health care, and other social services;
- Urge U.S. bilateral aid and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, which is already coordinating much of the global response to the AIDS crisis;
- Support U.S. trade policies that ensure access to affordable generic drugs for all developing countries; and
- Support the use of the United States government’s influence as the largest donor to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to negotiate debt cancellation for all poor countries facing AIDS crises in exchange for that country’s investment in AIDS education, prevention and treatment.