CUPE’s delegation left the 19th annual International AIDS Conference with renewed resolve to promote public health and social services as critical tools to stop the spread of HIV and care for people living with HIV and AIDS.
The conference gave a glimpse into the ever-increasing role of the private sector and corporate philanthropy in funding programs, administering projects and delivering services to people living with HIV/AIDS – loosely labelled as “public-private partnerships.”
CUPE delegates spoke up to challenge this charitable model of relying on corporate generosity as unsustainable and undemocratic. They also raised concerns about accountability and accessibilty of services when the corporate sector administers projects and provides services to marginalized communities. Instead, the way forward must be increased funding to end poverty and improve the delivery of public health care and other vital services.
Through a major demonstration and in conversation with other delegates, CUPE’s delegation showed strong support for the “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions. This tiny fee on transactions – paid by banks, not individuals - would raise billions of dollars for governments to finance public services.
The corporate face of the HIV/AIDS fight was also prominent in discussions about the impact of trade deals on access to life-saving drugs. Pharmaceutical corporations want to use the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) to protect their profits by extending their patents, blocking more affordable generic drugs from the market.
A commitment to build stronger links between disability rights activists and HIV/AIDS activists was another key outcome for CUPE’s delegation.