The African proverb "it takes a village" is often used to describe how the upbringing of a child is the responsibility of the extended family -- a communal effort. And as there is nothing more precious than the life of a child, it's beyond justification that every day 700 babies are needlessly born with HIV. Over the past 32 years, AIDS has killed more than 35 million people, many of them children. So when it comes to looking at what it will take to win the fight to end AIDS, the saying "it takes a village" has never had more meaning.
Today the first generation since the first incident of HIV occurred is joining the human family. We have come a long way from a time of desperation, when we were sure this epidemic would destroy our families, our countries and our continent. But we are still here -- through no coincidence or chance -- rather, because we united as a global community and refused to let future generations share the same fate as too many of our friends, parents, brothers and sisters.
For the first time in history, significant scientific advances mean that we have the potential to cut HIV, tuberculosis and malaria down to low-level epidemics, something the human family could not have imagined only 10 years ago. We are not there yet, and the window of opportunity will not stay open for too long, so we need to act quickly and use wisely the tools at hand.
In many ways, when scientists, activists and leaders from around the world began coalescing around the audacious vision of "the beginning of the end of AIDS" in 2011, their proclamations inspired a similar mix of hope and skepticism. Of course, getting to a turning point in this devastating, decades-long epidemic would be an incredible feat -- but was it actually possible?
Sadly, many governments in our region do little to invest in the communities most at risk of HIV. One wonders whether these governments would be happier to just see us dead; I say "us" because I am a gay man from the Philippines who has been living with HIV for over nine years, and our government, like many others, seems to be sitting on its hands while scores of us are dying.