This World AIDS Day, save TAC's life
December 1, 2014
— On this World AIDS Day, we break tradition. No recitation of data, no reminder of progress. No critique or commentary is as urgent as the appeal we’re sending out this December 1st: Please join us
in helping to save the life of South Africa’s Treatment Action Campaign.
TAC, as it is known everywhere, has been a relentless voice of and for people living with HIV since 1998. Arising out of communities at the epicenter of the pandemic, TAC has mobilized a nation, made brilliant use of the courts, applied constant and consistent pressure on decision-makers, and saved millions of lives. Through its peaceful activism, TAC supporters forced their government to stop denying AIDS. They forced drug companies to stop denying HIV treatment to all but the wealthiest. They forced their urgent message—our members are dying; you must act
—upon an indifferent world. National and global leaders first responded with astonishment, then with admiration, and finally with political action and the funding TAC needed to keep organizing, educating, informing, and driving the HIV agenda. With earned respect and international support, wearing their iconic “HIV POSITIVE” t-shirts, TAC’s members and supporters changed history.
Now TAC itself is in danger. Significant funders, both governments and foundations, have cut back or withdrawn support entirely. It may not survive through 2015. Why now, when six million South Africans are living with HIV but just two million are in treatment? Why now, when the organization is so successful? Why now, when it’s so vital that TAC keep the pressure on government to roll out treatment, hold drug prices down, prevent stock-outs, monitor adherence, and stop the deadly spread of TB among people infected with HIV—among a long list of other life-and-death priorities?
Why now? Because a myth, created by fundraising professionals to increase AIDS contributions to giant global agencies and institutions, backfired disastrously. Their trumped-up message, that “THE END OF AIDS” is right around the corner, failed to give weary donors a second wind; instead, it gave them license to move on. If AIDS was no longer a threat, they could reduce their contributions to those global giants. Marketing “the end of AIDS” was a fundraising bomb for the big AIDS agencies and organizations. TAC was that bomb’s collateral damage.
Of course, the end of AIDS is nowhere near. Not when poverty and inequality determine who will and won’t survive with HIV; not when communities are missing generations; not when healthcare systems are staggering to keep up with treatment; not when a young girl in South Africa today is more likely to die of an AIDS-related cause than any other. The struggle is in full throttle.
And we know, with absolute certainty, that the struggle will be much harder, will take much, much longer, and will claim many more lives if TAC is not alive and well to help lead the charge.
Many other organizations are vitally important—and obviously, we think our own work is crucial—but the Treatment Action Campaign is at the very center of AIDS advocacy, working in the very center of the crisis. The AIDS movement is in triage mode. Right now, its nucleus needs support from all the rest of us.
Any donation, of any size, from an organization or an individual, will make a profound difference. Please go to TAC's website and send a contribution. Make this a World AIDS Day truly to be remembered.