Years ago the undeniable goal for HIV/AIDS activists was to get everybody in the world on antiretroviral medications, and this is still the case in these difficult times. This goal was rooted in the reality that without these lifesaving medications people would die. George W. Bush massively increased the funding for antiretroviral medication programs for poor countries, however, the Obama administration has not followed suit.
A sense of defeat has permeated aid organizations and the governments of rich countries, and in President Obama’s own words:
“Even as we’re battling HIV/ AIDS, we want to make sure that we are thinking not only in terms of treatment, but also in terms of prevention and preventing transmission,” said the President, “We’re never going to have enough money to simply treat people who are constantly getting infected. We’ve got to have a mechanism to stop the transmission rate.”
The fact of the matter is that we do currently have enough money to treat infected people, and the science of the matter is that treating HIV positive people appears to decrease their ability to infect others, decreases HIV viral resistance if treatment is consistently taken, prevents societies from unraveling at the seams, and is most effective if given early in the course of the disease. One new paradigm argues that treating people with HIV now is prevention as it will decrease the rate of new infections in the future.
It was recently reported that a 33 bed inpatient hospital unit which helps care for HIV positive children may have to shut its doors in Uganda due to budget cuts. Children who are admitted to the hospital are often very sick, but quickly recover when antiretroviral drugs are administered. Plus, critics are slamming the Ugandan government for not doing enough to fun HIV/AIDS programs operated within their borders which obtain 85% of their funds from foreign donors. The hospital also operates a reproductive health clinic for young women and helps care for cervical and breast cancer patients. Hopefully a donor will step in to save this hospital.