Among those attending this week’s UN meeting on AIDS is Richard Burzynski, head of ICASO, the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations. It represents many of the ngos that are on the frontline in the battle against HIV/AIDS.
From New York, Burzynski spoke to VOA English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about why the United Nations is doing a five-year review of the fight against the pandemic:
“Reviews of the governments’ commitments from 2001 are obviously very important to mark the progress of where we are. And this is really halfway through the commitments that governments signed on to. So, to have a review to see where we’re at, to mark our progress to see whether we’re on target is extremely important to the world.” I
n 2001, the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS approved the declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, which set goals for governments. Have those goals been met? Burzynski says, ”What we’re seeing from the reports coming in from various countries, what we’re seeing from the consolidated report from the Secretary-General and from UNAIDS is that we’re really not on target. And in fact we’re missing our targets among so many places.”
He says that although the pandemic is slowing down, millions of new infections occur every year and millions of people die from the disease. “One of the bright spots we have is the creation of the Global Fund. And it’s done some remarkable work and its gotten treatment to people for AIDS, TB, Malaria. It’s dealing with hundreds of projects around the world,” he says.
However, Burzynski cautions that many projects may be in jeopardy because the fund needs a lot more money to meet its goals. The ICASO leader also cautions against opposition to controversial “harm reduction” programs,” which include programs for “men who have sex with men” and sexworkers.