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A Hero of HIV Speaks Out: "AIDS is Not in a Recession"

Written By: Kelly Castagnaro
October 7, 2009

 

rolanke (The Mail & Guardian videos aren’t embeddable – so click on the pic above to watch the video on their site)

Recently, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria convened a meeting at the Ford Foundation in New York to discuss how governments, funders, the UN  and civil society can achieve health-related development goals in a rapidly-changing world. 

One of the highlights of the meeting were remarks by IWHC partner Rolake Odentoyibo, Project Director for the Positive Action for Treatment Access in Nigeria.  With only five years remaining  to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which include targets on combatting HIV/AIDS and reducing maternal mortality, Rolake questioned whether the world would truly see progress  on the most pressing issues. 

“How long are we going to live with these [MDG] goals?” said Rolake.  “Women like me die every day because our health is not prioritized.”

The current financial crisis, said Rolake, is no excuse to reduce health investments or delay progress on achieving access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care, and support.

“AIDS is not in a recession,” said Rolake.  “Until governments commit to [effective] prevention by investing in community-based organizations working with women, men who have sex with men, young people and sex workers to address stigma and discrimination [related to HIV/AIDS], the MDGs will remain a figment of our imagination.”

In Nigeria, Rolake has been a key figure in providing communities with HIV/AIDS education and working to reduce stigma and discrimination associated with the disease.  In addition to providing support to people living with HIV/AIDS, PATA has reached millions with critical information through Rolake’s weekly television show. 

To check out Rolake’s work, watch this video by the Mail & Guardian, which recently honored Rolake as a “Hero of HIV.” 

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