From President Reagan's "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall" to President Kennedy's "We choose to go to the moon in this decade," our history is marked by speeches that have had a bold and lasting impact on the world. These particular quotations are cemented in our memories, not just because they were good turns of phrase, but because the leaders who delivered them followed through on their words -- ultimately making what seemed impossible possible.
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?
In a new ONE accountability report this week, we find encouraging news: if current rates of acceleration are sustained, we will achieve the beginning of the end of AIDS by 2015. In other words, for the first time, we will finally get ahead of this disease, adding more people to life-saving antiretroviral treatment than those who are becoming newly infected with HIV. Not just within our lifetimes, but within a matter of years.
So what and who are behind all this progress? The answers might surprise you. For the second year in a row, low- and middle-income countries are now providing more than half of all global AIDS financing. And this progress is arguably most visible across Sub-Saharan Africa: our new analysis shows that 16 African countries have already achieved the beginning of the end of AIDS, ahead of global trends. Our report analyzes how countries like Ghana, Zambia and Malawi are leading the charge, combining donor resources with their own domestic spending on health and political will to turn the tide on their national AIDS epidemics.
In spite all of this progress, achieving the beginning of the end of AIDS by 2015 is not a foregone conclusion. Just at a time when the world is poised to make historic gains on this disease, donor funding has flatlined, and most African governments are not meeting their health spending commitments, leaving the AIDS fight at least $3 to $5 billion underfunded annually. The world has been at the fight against this disease for a long time, and it is perhaps inevitable that some sense of AIDS fatigue has set in. But making the beginning of the end of AIDS a reality requires new political commitment.
The Global Fund's upcoming replenishment in Washington, D.C. next week is the perfect time to begin renewing the world's focus. Over the course of the last decade, the Global Fund has become the single most powerful global tool in the fight against AIDS and two other killers, TB and malaria. But for the Global Fund to remain effective as a war chest, it must have the resources it needs to fight these diseases with new tools and smarter strategies. This year, it is calling for $15 billion for the next three years -- not just from traditional donors, but also from emerging economies and its private sector partners.
During this year's replenishment, then, leaders will face a choice. They can fall into complacency and risk that these diseases rebound and spread for decades. Or, they can seize this moment and help achieve the beginning of the end of AIDS, as well as the control of TB and malaria. To borrow from President Kennedy's moon shot speech, may this important challenge be "one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win."
This blog post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post, The Global Fund and (RED), in recognition of both World AIDS Day (Dec. 1) and the Global Fund's replenishment launch (taking place in Washington, D.C., December 2-3, where global leaders will determine how much money to allocate to the Global Fund over the next three years). The Global Fund is the Geneva-based financing organization that leads the fight against AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. (RED) has to date raised $215 million, with 100 percent of that money going to the Global Fund to fund AIDS programs in Africa. To see all the other posts in this series, visit here. To help fight AIDS, check out the "DANCE (RED) SAVE LIVES 2" album here and watch the DANCE (RED) SAVE LIVES 2 livestream on World AIDS Day from Australia here on the Huffington Post.