People living with HIV joined AIDS advocates from around the world to call on Bill Gates and world leaders to “back the bank tax” — referring to the IMF’s recommendation to create new taxes on banks — and to “fill the gap”, referring to the 70% gap in people accessing lifesaving medications.
“The UN has unveiled that 14 million people are in urgent need of HIV treatment, with only 4 million receiving it: that’s a 70% gap in lifesaving medication” said Vuyiseka Dubula of Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa. “Leaders from every country committed in 2005 to reach universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention by 2010. Yet this year, the progress that we were making has ground to a halt. As a person living with HIV, I am here at the International AIDS Conference to demand that leaders keep their promise, and fill the treatment gap”.
“The binge gambling of banks has caused the greatest recession in generations and is having an immediate impact on AIDS treatment scale up” says Khalil Elouardighi of Coalition PLUS in France. “There’s been broad consensus that the financial sector, already recording massive profits, can afford to pay a lot more. The IMF report released at the recent G20 summit recommends additional taxes on bank profits that would raise over 90 billion per year of new resources. That’s enough to pay for all of AIDS, all of health, with more to spend. So the notion that the money for AIDS isn’t there really doesn’t stand up to scrutiny”.
“The UK has had a successful financial transaction tax for many years. We congratulate the new coalition government for moving ahead with a new bank levy from January 2011 that will raise an additional £2bn per year.” says David Hillman of Stamp Out Poverty in London. “However, this is far too unambitious – the Robin Hood Tax Campaign is calling for this to be increased to £20 billion per year.”
“On the eve of the Vienna conference, the Leading Group for Innovative Financing for Development launched its latest feasibility study” added Anton Kerr of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance from the Vienna AIDS conference. “This report provides guidance to governments on how to establish an international tax on banks that would initially raise an additional $33bn, for health”.
“Wall Street remains powerful so we’ll need political leadership and a huge effort to take forward the proposed bank levies in the US– that’s why we call to Bill Gates to take a stand” says Asia Russell of Health GAP in the US.
“Universal Access to HIV treatment and commitments to global health are in jeopardy, we have to do something now: tell President Obama that its right that the Banks pay more and that the money is used to help keep our promise for universal access to HIV treatment, to prevent further child and maternal deaths”.
“In my country, [Kenya], people with AIDS seeking treatment are now being turned away, on account that President Obama has flat-lined the funding for President Bush’s Global AIDS program. How am I supposed to tell my sister that while I have treatment, now there’s none left for her?”, asks Nelson Otwoma of NEPHAK in Nairobi. “ Is President Obama going to help with the dirty work, asking infected families to choose which child gets treatment, and which child dies?”
People living with HIV, alongside AIDS advocates from around the world, told Bill Gates and world leaders to support and implement the tax on financial transactions now, as a means to generate the resources needed to fully fund AIDS fight, and more. The activists made the following calls on Bill Gates and world leaders:
- FILL THE GAP, BACK THE TAX !
- NO RETREAT : TAX & TREAT ! and
- FUND the AIDS FIGHT : TAX WALL STREET