Via allAfrica.com, a document from Aids-Free World: Africa: Remarks By Stephen Lewis, Co-Director of Aids-Free World, At the 2011 International Conference On Aids and Sexually Transmitted Infections. Stephen Lewis, a Canadian, was the longtime UN Envoy on AIDS; he is a great man, completely out of patience. Read his whole speech. Excerpt:
I'm thrilled by the embrace of the slogan "Know Your Epidemic; Know Your Response" and the current concentration on high-risk groups. But I note that there were many voices, over the years, not all of them eccentric, calling attention to concurrent sexual partners and discordant couples, to MSM and sex work and sexual violence, and particularly injecting drug use, and they were contemptuously dismissed.
I cannot but remember that magnificent gay activist from the Caribbean, Robert Carr, who died such an untimely death back at the pre-conference on MSM in advance of Vienna last year, Robert made one of those speeches that leaves you gasping.
When you hear what the experts say, said the normally tactful Robert, it's bullshit - and he repeated bullshit so many times in the course of thirty minutes that the crass word became a cry of mobilizing dignity.
As we come to this thrilling moment of progress, I can't forget the casual delays in responding to vulnerable groups. Experts fiddled while human rights burned. So if you sense a certain impatience in me, you're right. We don't have another day to lose.
Peter Piot did the arithmetic yesterday 1,350,000 put on treatment in 2010; 2,700,000 new infections, exactly double the number in treatment in the same year. It works out to 7,397 new infections every day.
And it's 2011, for God's sake. It's appalling that such numbers continue to haunt us; it's heart-breaking beyond endurance to contemplate further exponential agony. We cannot delay another minute in putting the 'prevention combination' to work.
And I think, judging from the mood in the corridors, that's what seizes this conference. But right at the moment when we know, irrefutably, that we can defeat this pandemic, we're sucker-punched at the Global Fund.
What's a sucker punch? It's when a boxer in the ring gets a punch below the belt that he doesn't see coming. No one expected a complete cancellation of Round Eleven, with new money unavailable for implementation until 2014.
It's just the latest blow in a long list of betrayals on the part of the donor countries, in this instance the Europeans in particular. I've heard from several people that the politics of the Global Fund meeting in Accra two weeks ago, when the decision was made, were not just complicated, but amounted to miserable internecine warfare.
Certain governments on the Board of the Global Fund simply discredited themselves. They give a soiled name to the principle of international solidarity. The Chair of the Board, in a remarkably convoluted effort, tried to explain things in a press release. He would have done far better to remain silent.
The decision on the part of the donor countries is unforgiveable. In a speech a few days ago, I addressed the Global Fund predicament by talking of the moral implications of a decision that you know will result in death death on the African continent.
I asked: "Do they regard Africa as a territorial piece of geographic obsolescence? Do they regard Africans themselves as casually expendable? Is it because the women and children of Africa are not comparable in the eyes of western governments to the women and children of Europe and North America? Is it because Africans are black and unacknowledged racism is at play? Is it because a fighter jet is worth so much more than human lives? Is it because defense budgets are more worthy of protection in an economic downturn than millions of human beings?"