From the head of UNAIDS, to African members of parliament, to civil society coalitions: take uncompromising stances, demand accountability, speak out for intersectional issues of race, gender, class and climate. This work needs to be funded, full-throttle and fearless.
AIDS isn't over, and AIDS activists know it. The lessons we have from the history of the power of acting up and fighting back are made fresh every day by new risks, new bold statements, new examples of people claiming space. This section contains letters to the people with the power to shape the future. First is a letter to young HIV-focused advocates who are already getting to work. We don't think of them as "next generation", but as "Generation Now"!
Next is a letter to Winnie Byanyima, the new Executive Director of UNAIDS. Byanyima is just one of the visible, global leaders on HIV and health who we hope will show strong activism in the coming year.
A note, here, about the history of activist leadership at UNAIDS: some of the agency's most impactful moments have come when its leaders called out others in power on inaction and bad policy. Around the world, and especially in Africa, UNAIDS plays a critical role in standing with and for LGBT individuals when they are attacked and persecuted.
UNAIDS has also often shown powerful activism in speaking up for audacious targets for resources, commodities and donor and recipient-country commitments. Low-income country governments haven't increased general health investments, even as GDP has climbed. That's not a matter of HIV crowding out funding—as the WHO itself suggests in its report—and it often reflects grave realities: famine, conflict or natural disasters. But in some cases, it reflects countries prioritizing other things besides the health of their own people. Nor can donors expect countries to pay for HIV programs and Universal Health Coverage (UHC) overnight.
Global leaders and country governments should not pit health initiatives against each other. We're looking for leadership from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Peter Sands and US Global AIDS Ambassador Deborah Birx among many others. Byanyima is the newest in this cohort. She's a powerful woman—and we hope that when she takes action, others will follow her lead!
Download Now What? AVAC Report 2019 to read our open letters to Generation Now! and UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima.
In our open letter to Generation Now!, we invited letters in response. Click here to read them.