Breakthroughs in the science of AIDS this year have shown us an incredible thing: we can end the AIDS crisis. Getting AIDS drugs to those with HIV who needs them not only keeps them alive and healthy, but can reduce risk of infection by 96%. The news is amazing - no one needs to die of AIDS - no one needs to become HIV positive.
Yet still millions have and millions still are. Since the beginning of the epidemic, nearly 30 million people have died from AIDS-related causes worldwide. A half million of those people have been in the U.S., the equivalent of the entire population of Las Vegas. We've made some incredible progress, getting effective medicines to those in need and reaching out to more and more communities to stop the spread.
But since Wall Street crashed our economy the incredible progress on AIDS has veered far off course. This very minute, thousands of people are on waiting lists for AIDS medicines in the United States. Instead of expanding what works into every community, we're talking about budget cuts--laying off the nurses and the teachers we need to end AIDS in America.
And globally, just as medicines have begun to reach those most in need and prevention efforts have started to bring down HIV rates, a funding crisis threatens to derail the whole effort. This year nearly 2 million people will die and over 2 million more will become HIV positive needlessly.
Most people living with HIV do not receive life-saving medicine, schools are losing their teachers due to illness and death, and children affected by HIV and AIDS are often deprived of their right to be a child. The world can't afford the economic and security instability this leads to.
The science is simply not getting to the people fast enough.
The Robin Hood Tax could raise billions to get us the tools we need to literally end the AIDS crisis. Shouldn’t the next generation be AIDS-free?
The science on HIV has truly never been better--we have drugs that work and we now know more about how to truly stop the virus in its tracks than ever before. That’s why Dr. Tony Fauci—America’s top infectious disease expert—recently declared that we can 'begin to control and ultimately end the AIDS pandemic'.
But hurdles are significant—and most of them are about money. There are about 34 million people worldwide living with HIV, a little over a million of them living here in the U.S. with women, people of color, and LGBT communities especially hard hit. These numbers can seem overwhelming. But doing nothing is even more costly.
In Africa, for example, HIV and related diseases like TB and Malaria are dramatically hurting the labor force, setting back economic and social progress. The vast majority of people living with HIV are between the ages of 15 and 49 - in the prime of their working lives. AIDS damages businesses by squeezing productivity, adding costs, diverting productive resources, and depleting skills. In the worst affected countries, average life expectancy has fallen by twenty years because of the AIDS epidemic.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. the progress we have made is slipping. Infections in many of our communities are rising as people lack access to education and prevention tools. And the financial crisis is making it all much worse--budget cuts have put people on waiting lists for affordable AIDS medicines in dozens of states, safe and affordable housing which is proven to stop HIV is disappearing, and the economic inequality that fuels AIDS is getting worse.
What Robin Can Do
We need to address the real underlying causes of HIV and AIDS—and the poor health in communities across the US and around the world. This means fixing our healthcare system to make sure that people aren’t falling through the cracks by the millions and ending up with nowhere to go but an emergency room. We have to stop the budget cuts and the lay offs of nurses and teachers that leave our social safety net in tatters.
Internationally we need the financing to ensure the United States can play its part in the global fight—supporting the Global Fund and directing dollars to clinics, hospitals, and community programs that can end the AIDS crisis.
HIV didn’t stop spreading or killing when the banking crisis happened. What we will tell the next generation? That we couldn't afford it? AIDS can be defeated. These statistics can become a terrible memory. And whole communities – whole countries – can begin to face the future with genuine hope.
The Robin Hood Tax could raise billions every year to make sure all children and adults have access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services. Ultimately, a Robin Hood Tax could finance the end of AIDS.