FCAA @30: Reigniting the Fight

The past three decades have seen incredible change, progress and hope in the fight against HIV and AIDS. We are transitioning from an emergency response to developing sustainable programs; programs that allow those affected not only to survive, but truly to thrive. With the appropriate level of commitment, we could well end the disease as a threat to public health.

The philanthropic sector has been integral to this progress – not only through its generous financial contributions, but also by lending its technical expertise and passion to the effort. In this, our 30th anniversary year, FCAA will be taking a look back at examples of the unique collaborations among the public, private and philanthropic sectors that have led to one of the most inspiring health movements of our time.

We see this series as providing some much-needed inspiration as our community faces daunting barriers and emerging threats.

It’s difficult to imagine but, even 30 years into this fight, there remain significant hurdles. In certain regions of the world, the prospect of stigma and discrimination inhibits individuals from being tested, let alone disclosing their HIV status. In fact, 32 U.S. states and 72 countries have laws that criminalize HIV. Without access to the proper treatment and care, an HIV diagnosis often is still a death sentence in many places. And there are communities where the spread of AIDS has yet to be controlled.

In addition, the rapidly shifting political environment has resulted in significant concerns. Questions as to the value of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Executive Order to reinstate the “Global Gag Rule” in the U.S. put the very programs that have led to such astonishing success under attack. Just this week, President Trump put forth a budget proposal that includes dramatic funding cuts and significant roadblocks to domestic and global health programs. [Read FCAA’s statement on the budget proposal HERE].

As much as there is cause for considerable concern, we must also remember our fighting spirit. We must remember the change we have, collectively, been able to effect and the progress we have driven in the past three decades. Before passionate advocates applied pressure to U.S. leaders, for example, political will to fight the epidemic was extremely limited in this country – in fact, some might argue it was largely absent. But our community was paying attention and preparing for action. And, ultimately, we were able to hold the government accountable.

Consider, too, that, over the past few decades, philanthropic resources have grown dramatically, becoming an invaluable part of the global response. What began with only five private foundation grants and $216,000 in 1983 has increased, most recently, to $663 million per year.[1]

So now, we must reignite that fighting spirit; we cannot allow it to dim even a little.

FCAA’s forthcoming series of blogs — which will begin, appropriately, by highlighting one of the first corporations to get involved in HIV and AIDS, Levi Strauss & Co. — is intended to do just that. Remembering how far we have come and how hard we have fought will similarly remind us of what we are made. We must never lose sight of the fact that we are a formidable force with which to be reckoned.

There is no question that the economic and political environment in which we work is very challenging at the moment. But I have every faith that we will rise to the occasion. We’ve done it before, we know the way and we will not leave the work to defeat HIV and AIDS undone.

Read the full series:
Reigniting the Fight: The Levi Strauss Foundation 

Reigniting the Fight: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

[1] http://www.fcaaids.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/FCAA_2016TrackingReport_web-1.pdf