On the second anniversary of the launch of its Global Initiative on HIV/AIDS, the New York City-based Ford Foundation has issued a call for donors, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and other stakeholders to match global investments in medical and technological breakthroughs with an equally significant focus on the social dimensions of the disease.
According to the foundation, while people around the globe are living longer than ever with the disease, deeply entrenched social taboos continue to stand in the way of AIDS sufferers living lives characterized by dignity, purpose, and access to opportunity. To achieve that goal, the foundation is asking global leaders to come together around initiatives that advance human rights, elevate leaders from marginalized groups to the highest levels of the AIDS movement, promote government accountability on both the medical and social progress fronts, and ensure an equitable distribution of AIDS programs and services.
For more than twenty years, the foundation has supported innovative approaches that confront the impact of AIDS, both in local communities and at the global level. Recent grantees of the foundation's HIV/AIDS initiative include the Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS Association, a key actor in the 1990s in the push to encourage the Brazilian government to guarantee universal access to antiretroviral therapy for all people living with HIV; the Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS Unit, which works with the government of India to ensure equitable access to treatment programs; and the U.S.-based Center for Women & HIV Advocacy, which educates policy makers and the public about the benefits of providing comprehensive sex education in public schools and provides training programs that educate HIV-positive women about their legal rights.
"With millions gaining access to life-saving drugs and treatment, the battle against AIDS enters a critical phase," said Ford Foundation deputy vice president Jacob A. Gayle, who heads up the Global Initiative on HIV/AIDS. "We must address the long-term, deeply entrenched social challenges that stand in the way of people living full and productive lives with the disease. This means confronting head on the discrimination and lack of opportunity that made so many vulnerable to the disease in the first place."