When the UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report 2011 landed in my inbox, initially I thought “AIDS. I remember that.” It seemed so distant, so removed from the causes that populate general consciousness in this country and seemingly, around the world. We are living in an age where protests pop up like dandelions in the sidewalk; a world where the threat of terrorism crouches in the shadows of every bridge and tunnel we cross and every airplane we board. We worry about whole currency blocs falling apart, our jobs, our retirement. A new reality of toppling governments (whether it be crumbling dictatorships or populist ousters due to financial malfeasance) has taken hold. Families wonder whether sending their children to college is a realistic expectation and what will happen when the bank forecloses on their home. There is an odd sense of nostalgia for the days when all we had to worry about was brutal gang violence and the crack and AIDS epidemic took hold.
Sarcasm aside, and taking into consideration all of the concerns listed above, I find it all the more remarkable that there is still progress being made in fighting this heinous disease. According to the report, the economic crisis has yielded a drop in financial resources being devoted to AIDS. International assistance declined from US$ 8.7 billion in 2009 to US$ 7.6 billion in 2010. Some global goals had to be readjusted because due to the impact in the drop of funding but resources are still being allocated. It shows great fortitude that when fresh and urgent causes pop up, as they have been, that the world’s dedication does not get switched off.
All of the resources in the world, however, would not make a dent if they were not allocated in a manner that maximizes efficiency. UNAIDS helps to make this possible, having formulated an investment framework based on four tenants that allow different cultures and countries to tailor their own responses while working within the parameters of an established framework. I believe this to be of crucial importance. What works for one culture will not necessarily work for another when it comes to battling this disease.