2011 marks the 30th year HIV/AIDS has been with us. 2011 marks the 30th year HIV/AIDS has been with us. Tremendous strides have been made in treatment and in stemming the spread of the disease. Currently Africa is the continent most affected by HIV/AIDS.

Of the 33.4 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS, Africa – which has just over 10% of the world’s population – is home to over 2/3 of those. The disease is the leading cause of death in Africa, with approximately 3,800 people dying every day from AIDS.

That two pills which cost about 40 cents a day can bring life back to those dying of HIV/AIDS is truly a miracle. Through The Global Fund, financial efforts by world governments (the US leading the way), and innovative private sector funding, medication, health care, testing, and counseling are now available to millions people. Through The Global Fund, millions of people across Africa, and around the world, are now on life-saving antiretroviral treatment.

(RED), the brand designed to engage business and consumer power to help deliver a sustainable flow of private sector dollars to The Global Fund, produced he film The Lazarus Effect to showcase the impact of antiretroviral treatment on the lives of millions of people across Africa.

Director Lance Bangs traveled to Zambia, one of the countries hit hardest by HIV/AIDS, documenting the benefits of antiretroviral drugs (AVRs). Bangs began making experimental and personal films as a teenager, and his early work was discovered by Michael Stipe. At age 17, he began collaborating on film projects with R.E.M., Green Day, Sonic Youth, and dozens of other bands, as well as founding a series of screenings of Super 8mm and 16mm films. He directed his first rock music video in 1993 and His work has shown at the Museum of Modern Art, Georgia Museum of Art as well as in festivals. The Lazarus Effect screened at the Museum of Modern Art in May 2010.

The Lazarus Effect shows the effects two pills at 40 cents a day can have on those living with HIV in Africa. The stories of four ARV recipients and the film’s warm, rich tones reflect the hope the ARVs have brought to Sub-Saharan Africa – and by extension, the world.

Constance and her husband were tested and found positive after their three children died of HIV/AIDS. The couple had to make a decision between medication, rent or food. The first client at an HIV clinic, Constance is now an HIV Peer Education Supervisor there.

Paul lost his parents and siblings to HIV and himself was diagnosed positive. Now with ARVs, he can make a life for himself, his wife and daughter. Bwalya, an 11-year-old orphan is brought to clinic for treatment by her aunt and responds favorably to treatment. Bwalya is one of the
over 1,000 children infected daily by HIV in Africa.

But there is change for mothers and children: Concillia Muhau, despite being HIV positive, was able to deliver a virus-free child thanks to antiretroviral treatment. Concillia and her child are representative of new strides in ARV treatment in Africa.

The goal of virtually eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission by 2015 is a global commitment by dozens of international and non-governmental organizations working together. (RED) has supported programs that have reached more than 95,000 HIV positive pregnant women with preventative antiretroviral therapy to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission. Globally, the rate of mother to child transmission has dropped 24% from 2005 to 2009.

Public health organizations like The Global Fund and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR, created by George W Bush in 2003) are funding the free ARVs being provided to millions of Africans, with an emphasis on women and children.

Since its creation in 2002, The Global Fund has become the dominant financier of programs to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. To date, programs supported by The Global Fund have saved 6.5 million lives through providing AIDS treatment for 3 million people, anti-tuberculosis treatment for 7.7 million people and the distribution of 160 million insecticide-treated nets for the prevention of malaria.

(RED) funds have supported programs that have helped put more than 240,000 HIV-positive people on antiretroviral therapy and more than 7 million people have undergone HIV testing and counseling because of these efforts.

With strides like these, with governments working together for the collective good, maybe the world can be a better place, maybe there is hope, hope for Africa, and hope for all countries affected by HIV/AIDS, hope for our species as a whole.

LINKS

FILMhttp://www.youtube.com/joinred

(RED) – http://www.joinred.com

PEPFAR – http://www.pepfar.gov/

THE GLOBAL FUND – http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/