Action for $1.2 billion AIDS funding

Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2001 00:37:41 -0400 (EDT)

Dear All,

For all our world seems to have changed since September 11, much remains the same. Though they have moved into the background of our consciousness, the ills of the world before September 11 have not vanished. One such ill, one of the most devastating, is the global AIDS pandemic. Over 5 million people are becoming infected with HIV every year, and about 3 million people are dying of AIDS every year.
Each AIDS death is, of course, a tragedy in itself. The tragedy and grief extends beyond the victim, and beyond her friends and family. For every AIDS death, a ripple of suffering extends into society. Families are able to grow less food, and children may drop out of school in order to work to support themselves and their families. Teachers are among the victims; schools close because there is no one to teach the children. Health care workers die, weakening health systems that were poor in the first place, and then further burdened by AIDS. Companies lose their workers, putting economies that must generate funds to cope with AIDS into reverse. Children who will have to one day lead their societies are orphaned, losing the guidance and love that should be at the foundation of their lives. The ripples of suffering join to become a terrible wave, and the devastation of AIDS spreads through society.
You can help today. It is in a small way, but could be to great effect. It is a small way because much of what has caused AIDS to become the pandemic that it has become is deeply rooted, including discrimination against women and poverty itself. Stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS help fuel the pandemic, and many governments are only now beginning to treat AIDS with the gravity that it deserves -- and some still are not. The problems are complex and will take some time and great effort to solve. In time, or perhaps already, we might find ways to become part of this effort -- complex and difficult are not synonyms for unsolvable.
But there is something that you can do today. Because for all of the difficult issues, there are some clear ones as well. One is the need for more funds. Funds to build up health infrastructure so that people can be cared for and treated. Funds to train doctors and nurses and counselors. Funds to cover voluntary testing. Funds for AIDS education programs. Funds to enable children to stay in school instead of going to work. Funds to provide economic opportunities to women, and provide for their schooling. Funds to support local organizations that are fighting AIDS and caring for people with AIDS. Funds to support orphans and the extended families with whom they stay. Funds for treatment to stop the deaths. And more.
There is an effort underway in Congress to increase US funding for combating the global AIDS crisis by $1.2 billion, including $1 billion for the UN Global AIDS and Health Fund. A letter calling for this increased funding is being circulated in Congress, with members of the House and Senate signing the letter in support. In less than two weeks, possibly on Friday October 26, the letter will be presented to President Bush. The more members of Congress who have signed the letter the more likely it is that the President will act, and submit a request to Congress for an additional $1.2 billion in emergency funding for AIDS.
This is a small amount compared to the need. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called for $7 to 10 billion for the Global Fund, though even this is far from enough, once health infrastructure, education, and other elements of a response that go beyond basic prevention, care, and treatment are factored into the picture. (For a sense of the health infrastructure costs, see But an additional $1.2 billion would be an important step forward.
What can you do? Ask your Senators and Representatives to sign the letter. You can e-mail or call. You can find their phone numbers and e-mail addresses at You can also call the Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Tell your Congresspeople to sign the letter requesting an additional $1.2 billion for AIDS funding.
You can also very quickly generate an automatic message to your Congresspeople through Indeed, if you do this and pass on this address to family, friends, and colleagues, you could have an enormous impact through this very simple action.
You could write letters to your Congresspeople, though with the anthrax incidents around the country, including on Capitol Hill, it is not clear how quickly these letters would be read. In ordinary times, letters are considerably more effective than e-mails. (Now that the House of Representatives has closed for the rest of the week for anthrax testing, and the Senate's office buildings have also closed for the rest of the week, calling the House or Senate over the next few days might not be very effective either.)
The world we knew and lived changed on September 11. In some ways, we cannot control the change -- the lessened sense of security, the fear of what might happen in the days and months ahead. But there are many ways in which we can control the way the world has changed and will continue to change. We have many opportunities to define the world in which we now live, and our place in it. That is the way of the world today, and that is how the world was before September 11. A greater American effort to stop the AIDS pandemic and the tremendous suffering that it is causing is one way in which we can redefine our place. And by telling your Congresspeople to sign the letter calling for increased funding is one way that you can help shape how our nation redefines itself.
Thank you for your time and efforts.



"I have only dreams: to build a better world, a world of harmony and understanding, a world in which it is a joy to live. This is not asking for too much." -- Yitzhak Rabin

Back to Better World.