The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched its “Global Alliance on HIV” in the Americas just prior to the opening of the XVII International AIDS Conference being held in Mexico City from 3 to 8 August 2008. It’s estimated more than 7 million people will benefit from this partnership.
The aim of this initiative in Latin America and the Caribbean, is to raise over 22.3 million Swiss francs (USD 21.4 million / euro 13.7 million) to scale up HIV and AIDS programmes in the Americas. The initiative will start with ten countries: Argentina, Belize, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras and Jamaica. In the coming years, more countries from the Americas will join the HIV Global Alliance.
“The Global Alliance on HIV applies an approach based on the community that is unique, because it includes prevention, care, treatment and reduction of stigma and discrimination and seeks to increase Red Cross efforts in decreasing vulnerability to HIV and its impact on people” says Dr. Mukesh Kapila, the Federation’s Special Representative on HIV.
The plan aims to reach nearly 7,300,000 people, focusing on vulnerable groups including women, children living with HIV and orphaned due to HIV, people living with HIV and sex workers in Latin America and the Caribbean. The HIV Global Alliance aims to double Red Cross Red Crescent programming in targeted communities worldwide, reaching at least 137 million beneficiaries by 2010.
“Our comparative advantage relies on our network of volunteers and the capacity of taking action directly with families and communities the Red Cross serves, and at the same time having access to decision-makers. Red Cross volunteers play an incomparable role as they work directly with communities and beneficiaries, providing them with support and care” says Dr. Mukesh Kapila.
Based on UNAIDS statistics, the IFRC estimates that, of the global total of 33.6 million people living with HIV, there are approximately 1.6 million in Latin America. According to estimates, approximately 58,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses during the last year. In the Caribbean, HIV prevalence in 2007 is estimated at 1.0%, and the Caribbean therefore continues to be the second most affected region in the World after Sub-Saharan Africa. An estimated 11,000 people in the Caribbean died from AIDS in 2007 – AIDS is one of the main causes of death in people aged between 25 and 44.
“While many strides have been made to improve the lives of persons affected by HIV and AIDS globally, much work still needs to be done to increase access to quality care, treatment and support, reduce stigma and discrimination and ensure the greater involvement of people living with HIV in the decision-making process on issues which impact their lives directly. Therefore, we support the initiative and the International Federation’s regional and national efforts to “do more and better” in order to reduce vulnerability to HIV and its impact on the most vulnerable people” says Ms. Yolanda Simon, Representative of the Caribbean Regional network.