Take Up Fight Against HIV/AIDS
Renowned activist Paul Davis journeyed to Oberlin
on Tuesday, calling students to action to fight against the global
Davis spoke to approximately twenty-five Obies in Wilder, describing
the workings of the Health Global Access Project.
This organization is comprised of activists and advocates of human
rights that campaign against governmental policies that neglect
and ignore the rapid spread of HIV. Health GAP pushes for global
access to inexpensive medicinal treatment for those infected with
HIV/AIDS as a means of tackling and eventually squelching the AIDS
They oppose and actively rally against agencies and industries that
block that access.
A sobering United Nations AIDS report (the most recently released)
revealed that, unless treatment is widely issued and preventative
measures taken, 68 million people in the 45 most affected countries
will die of the virus between 2000 and 2020.
The three pillars of the Health GAP organization were said by Davis
to be dollars, debt and drugs. In essence, the organization aims
to relieve foreign debt, which cripples the ability of the countries
most seriously affected to slow the spread of HIV.
The money used by these nations to repay the U.S. could be used
instead for healthcare measures; and make medicine widely available
to those infected at affordable prices. “People should not
have to die from treatable illnesses because they are poor,”
Davis exclaimed, saying that we must collect as much money as possible
for AIDS treatment funds and programs.
There is a gap, according to Davis, between those infected with
HIV/AIDS and the actual medication used to treat them. Approximately
95 percent of people who have the virus do not have access to the
treatment that has made the illness manageable in wealthier countries.
“Pills cost pennies,” Davis stated. “Greed costs
Multiple efforts are needed to lower drug treatment costs including
generic production of medication, a change in U.S. foreign trade
policies and priorities, as well as attempting to break the monopoly
of pharmaceutical companies of wealthy nations.
Health GAP feels that organization on an international scale in
the assembly of funds to fight the AIDS epidemic is necessary for
prevention and treatment.
The association is pushing for a Presidential AIDS Initiative that
would include, among many other suggested possibilities, annual
contributions to the Global Fund, (created by U.N. Secretary General
Kofi Annan, promising the funding of AIDS treatment programs in
countries widely affected if adequately funded and controlled by
the priority to fill the treatment gap) effective prevention programs
stressing education and sexual health services, and developmental
research for more effective vaccines and medications.
Davis revealed that drug costs for infected individuals, through
the implementation and workings of suggested Health GAP policies,
has been decreased from $1500 dollars a year to only $250.
America’s fair share in the Global AIDS Fund is $2-3 billion
per year which, in turn, could possibly leverage billions from other
Bush has contributed $200 million to the Global Fund this year.
The fund is expected to have only $300 million by the end of December,
drastically falling short of what is actually required to make a
substantial difference in treatment.
President Bush is to travel to Africa in January 2003, roughly the
same time he is scheduled to submit his budget request to Congress.
Health GAP is hoping to influence a political movement resulting
in a positive and helpful course of action by Washington before
that time. They plan on doing this by campaigning for HIV/AIDS epidemic-concerned
candidates running in the Nov. 5 House, Senate and gubernatorial
races. “If we’re going to win this, it has to come from
the White House,” stated Davis.
The decision of who is to replace Ohio’s 3rd District House
Representative Tony Hall, who accepted a U.N. position, is one of
the key elections in that movement.
Davis provided the students who attended his talk with what he termed
“action kits” and “target lists.” These
packets contain suggestions of and tips for staging press events
such as briefings and conferences, how to effectively compose press
releases and letters to the editor, and a list of possible actions
to take at campaign related events such as pickets, protests and
He encouraged students who felt strongly about the HIV/AIDS epidemic
to further the cause.
“It’s [the fight against global AIDS]
work that’s going to change history, and change history soon,”