“We need to try to work harder in order to end violence against women, discrimination, racism, the drama of fleeing migrants that is a product of intolerance, which are devastating collateral epidemics that strengthen the continuation of HIV”
“The terrible epidemics that affect the whole world require a new focus, with international attention and coordination”, expressed the United Nations Assistant Secretary General and Executive Director of UNAIDS, Dr. Luiz Loures, during the Eastern Economic Forum in the Russian city of Vladivostok.
“We need a new way of thinking, we cannot deal with these terrible diseases using the attitude of the past”, he remarked, drawing attention to the new reality of the pandemic.
Loures, during the month of November, gave two speeches that we can characterize as strategic thinking, one in Vladivostok and one more recently in Costa Rica along with the HIV positive women that form ICW Latina, a regional branch of ICW Global that was founded 25 years ago by 29 women of different countries from around the world that brings together 22,000 women in 120 countries today.
“The people that are discriminated against are hidden from society and do not participate in prevention programs”, he said.
He also emphasized violence as one of the problems that young women in our region face. According to a report by UN Women, Latin America presents the highest number of incidences of violence against women in the world.
“Our statistics clearly show that where there is violence there is HIV”. “Young women that suffer violence can have a 50% higher risk of contracting HIV by age 30 than those who do not face violence”, the report warns.
“Epidemics of intolerance and violence are perhaps more important than HIV”
In 2017, it was estimated that 27,000 new cases of HIV were found in women alone, 28% of the total new cases of HIV in the region, according to UNAIDS.
The proliferation of the infection contrasts with the regional capacity to dedicate treatment to the carriers of the virus.
It is telling and painful that our region, the first where a movement of civil society organizations emerged to demand treatment and to lead action for the government to guarantee coverage, today faces serious problems with lowering the rate of HIV infections. In civil society, we need to take account of this fact and rethink strategies.
With this reality, Latin American countries will face difficulties in achieving the UN goal of eradicating HIV by the year 2030.
“If one looks at the number of people in treatment, we are achieving the goal, but by the number of new infections, we are not. We need to do much more”, Loures admitted.
“We need to try to work harder in order to end violence against women, discrimination, racism, the drama of fleeing migrants that is a product of intolerance, which are devastating collateral epidemics that strengthen the continuation of HIV”.
An immense definition that marks the concluding stage of the history of the AIDS pandemic and opens challenges, for governments and for civil society.
Will governments and supranational structures like the G20 (which will take place in Argentina in 2018), with their agendas open to receive health topics of this importance, attempt a change in the paradigm and successfully confront the new reality of AIDS?
Are we as civil society leaders prepared to join the demands’ historic objectives, new ones that lead us to successfully embark on a path of growth towards more complex but essential political objectives, such as those represented by the "collateral epidemics" addressed by Dr. Loures?
Not understanding the present moment and the need to modify strategies to fight AIDS, makes it more resistant in political and social terms.
We are up against a new critical point in the history of AIDS: as more than thirty years ago we stood for our survival and in many senses, for the survival of the human species, today it is essential to confront hidden epidemics with social tolerance, that help the spread of HIV, hiding it and making it triumph.
A new act of love is waiting for us. We will do it like we did yesterday, when we join hands with activists and big personalities that shine light on our actions.
Presidents Mandela, Clinton, Cardozo and innumerable members of arts and sports, opened their hearts and put the epidemic in check.
We believed that it was defeated. It was not. We found it hiding in our misfortune.