We, the Student Global AIDS Campaign (SGAC) Chapter of St. Michael’s College, are writing to you as concerned members of society to address and raise awareness about a current health crisis many may not be aware of. We are, of course, referring to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. When most people think of this epidemic, they think of it as an event of the past. However, HIV/AIDS continues to devastate populations across the globe, especially those that are impoverished and stigmatized.
In 2015, there were two million new HIV infections and over one million people died of AIDS. Currently, only 19 million of the 37 million infected are receiving life-saving treatment. This is not enough. This means 18 million people are still without treatment. This is especially infuriating because we have the means and technology to completely eradicate AIDS by 2030. To do this, we need more action and political will on the part of our congressmen and congresswomen.
This year’s funding for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a global assistance program, was flat funded, and before that, was facing dire budget cuts. Thankfully, our nation’s political leaders advocated for flat funding. But again, this is not enough. To reach our goal of ending AIDS by 2030, we need to increase the PEPFAR annual budget by $1 billion by fiscal year 2019. Of course, this number seems like an unattainable goal, but if we succeed in increasing funding, we will see millions of lives improved and saved, and AIDS will truly become an issue of the past.
Our chapter would like to encourage the members of our campus to educate themselves about this devastating issue and to contribute their voices to our cause. World AIDS Day (December 1) is a great opportunity to do this. Our chapter at Saint Michael’s College is planning a variety events for the week of November 27-December 1 and we would love to see our campus unite and bring more attention and action to this issue. For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Michael’s College SGAC Chapter
ERIN WILLIAMS, ’19
STUDENT GLOBAL AIDS