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Leading AIDS Campaigners Meet in Nairobi

Leading AIDS activists from around the world are meeting in Nairobi this week, trying to come up with a common strategy to achieve universal access to care and treatment.

The World AIDS Campaign organized the meeting, saying G8 countries are not doing enough to fulfill their promises on HIV/AIDS.

Marcel Van Soest is the executive director of the World AIDS Campaign. From Nairobi, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the reasons for the gathering.

“We are very far behind achieving the commitments that were done by all our governments about 2010 targets on reaching universal access for all HIV-positive people on treatment care and support. The process, as far as it goes, is very discouraging. As long as we don’t have that,” he says, “there will never be a real accelerated implementation to reach many, many more people on treatment or having access to prevention services. And (there’s been) back tracking by world leaders on…universal access by promising money that is by far not enough and also mentioning targets for treatment that are less than half of the people that need the treatment for 2010.”

He says their goal is to form a strategy to put pressure on the G8. “So it’s really finding strategies together, working together in a much more orchestrated way,” he says.

Asked whether this unified approach makes the NGO meeting different than others, Van Soest says, “Yes, the biggest difference is that we have brought this time together national campaigners, national constituencies, not only from NGOs or networks of people living with HIV/AIDS, but also who are present here are national level trade unions, youth organizations, women organizations. There are representatives of religious leaders living with HIV/AIDS, faith organizations. We want to work more and more together between constituencies, but also really looking at what needs to happen at the national level.”

He adds, “The huge advocacy machine over the last 10 years has achieved a lot, but is by far not enough any more to only focus on UN processes in New York or Geneva or the G8. So, there’s much more need for a movement building, especially in the most affected areas of the world like Africa.”