Back in 2005, at the G8 Summit, all countries agreed unanimously to achieve “Universal Access” for AIDS treatment, prevention and care by the year 2010.
It’s not going to happen. We have slightly over four million people in treatment around the globe, but there are at least nine million who require treatment today, and millions of them won’t be reached by the end of 2010.
Prevention is not yet working. For every two people whom we put on anti-retroviral treatment so that they might live, there are five new infections. Prevention remains an elusive goal in the high-prevalence countries.
That leaves care. In this category, as well, the need greatly outstrips the response. Just think of the monumental numbers of orphans and grandmothers struggling to survive, let alone the vast host of people living with AIDS.
So this is where the Foundation comes in. This is where our work is indispensable. Sure, we’re a small organization, relatively speaking, with a limited reach. But in the absence of world governments meeting their commitments, the Foundation is a bright light, especially at the heart of community life.
Does it make a difference? Consider this anecdote:
The Music Therapy Community Clinic (MTCC) in South Africa uses music to help children work through their grief after losing their parents to AIDS. One four-year old boy named Thabo was brought to the hospital after his mother’s death and was inconsolable. He kicked, screamed and cried in anguish. Two music therapists sat beside him and gently began to weave the pitch of his cries into their songs. Eventually Thabo began to tentatively bang on a drum. The therapists accompanied his beat on their guitars, as if to signal that they would care for him — he was not alone. Thabo’s tears evaporated and a sweet smile enveloped his face. He’s now in pre-school with our support.
It’s so hard to make people understand that the story of this one little boy stands as a metaphor for thousands upon thousands of other girls and boys. It makes everything worth doing. It makes all the difference in the world to children whose lives are torn asunder by the virus.
Of course we can turn the tide on AIDS in Africa. It just takes your help, sprinkled with a touch of imagination and love.
Too maudlin; too unrealistic? Just ask Thabo.
CHAIR OF THE BOARD
p.s. Check out our World AIDS Day e-mail message online
p.s. To donate to the Stephen Lewis Foundation, call 1-888-203-9990 ext.0 or donate online.