Shared Norms -- What to Expect from Davos
There’s been a lot of talk about “donor fatigue” around HIV and whether the uncertainty and unreliability of donor funding will stall – or worse, reverse – global HIV prevention and treatment efforts. Unfortunately, in recent years, that fatigue has spread beyond just donors.
When I started working at PSI more than a decade ago, HIV/AIDS was the cause du jour, with celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor and Magic Johnson leading the way on raising awareness, building dialogue and promoting positive behavior change. But since then, HIV has slowly stopped receiving the attention it deserves. A recent study by the Kaiser Foundation found that HIV/AIDS news coverage has dropped more than 70 percent in developed countries over the past two decades. That’s an astonishing decrease – and highly troublesome, considering that 40 million people are living with HIV or AIDS and 7,000 young people are becoming newly infected each day.
With this in mind, you can imagine how pleased I was when the forum decided to put the examination of the progression of HIV/AIDS prevention on the agenda for Davos this year. That kind of leadership is incredibly important in the current climate. While we continue to struggle to control the spread of HIV, we have had some very tangible successes. More lives are being saved from HIV and AIDS than ever before, and eight developing countries (Botswana, Cambodia, Croatia, Cuba, Guyana, Oman, Romania and Rwanda) now provide universal access to antiretroviral treatments. In terms of prevention, PSI is leading the way on one of the most innovative and effective prevention interventions, male circumcision. Voluntary male circumcision can reduce the risk of female to male HIV transmission by 60 percent, and PSI is the largest NGO male circumcision implementer, leading a team of partners and governments in scaling up service delivery across Southern Africa.
What we’ve learned from these examples isn’t only important in the context of HIV, but also in the context of other diseases, such as malaria, pneumonia, tuberculosis and the non-communicable diseases I wrote about last time on this blog.
Over the course of Davos, we’ll hear from Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, as well as the crown princess of Norway, Mette-Marit, who serves as a UNAIDS special representative. The objective of the sessions will be to provide a venue for global leaders to share experiences, engage in cross-cultural dialogue and learn about what works and what doesn’t from an international group of peers. Perhaps more importantly, it will give us the opportunity to celebrate our successes and to turn the spotlight back on the work that is being done and that still needs to be done to control the spread of HIV and other diseases.
It’s a tough but important task the folks at Davos have ahead of them. I’m sorry I’ll be missing those discussions this year. Normally right now I’d be madly sorting through a pile of shoes trying to convince myself that three-inch heels are indeed a reasonable choice for the snowy streets of Davos. But I’m literally days away from giving birth, so this time around, I’ve happily passed along the desperate task of finding fashionable footwear that can survive the snow to my boss, PSI’s president and chief executive, Karl Hofmann. He’ll be blogging directly from Davos once he arrives. Keep checking this blog for ongoing updates.
Kate Roberts leads the Corporate Marketing and Communications Departments of PSI. Kate is the founder and executive director of YouthAIDS and Five & Alive, two marketing programs of PSI. Prior to her role at PSI, Roberts worked with Bates, Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising.
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| January 25, 2011; 1:56 PM ET
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