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Letter delivered to Prime Minister Harper

The World AIDS Campaign (WAC) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) delivered a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper on June 24 highlighting the failure to date of the G8 to live up to its foreign aid promises and demanding a new costed, time bound plan to deliver universal access to HIV treatment, prevention, care and support.

The papers were delivered to Prime Minister Harper as the host of this year’s G8 summit, calling upon him to show leadership in ensuring that earlier promises to combat the global epidemic are not abandoned or watered down in the face of the financial crisis.

The Promise made in 2005 was not met

The G8 committed to achieving “as close as possible” universal access to HIV treatment by the end of 2010 at the 2005 Gleneagles summit.

That commitment is still far from being met. More than nine million still need access to anti-retroviral drugs, dwarfing the four million people currently in treatment. There are 33 million people living with HIV today and nearly three million people are newly infected each year,” said Paul Moist, CUPE national president.

The Promise may not be on G8 agenda

Early signs indicate that the failure to reach the target of universal access will not be discussed at this year’s summit. UK newspaper The Guardian reported on June 4 that, in particular, France and Italy are a long way from meeting their development commitments. Also, likely as a result of their lobbying efforts, a leaked draft communiqué makes no mention of 2005 development commitments.

Both CUPE and WAC oversaw the gathering of signatures, as part of their contribution to a global G8 campaign on universal access. They also made contact with Canadian embassies in 42 countries, calling on Prime Minister Harper and the G8 Summit to develop a new plan for meeting universal access goals before the review of Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in 2015.

The Millennium Project was commissioned by the United Nations Secretary-General in 2002 to develop a concrete action plan for the world to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and to reverse the grinding poverty, hunger and disease affecting billions of people.

We must continue to take action

Signers of the petition will now be enlisted to join future actions for the building of public support for this purpose, especially through country-level implementation of the G8’s universal access goals.

2010 is critical to remind leaders that they can not afford to back track on HIV – promises must be kept now,” said Marcel van Soest, Executive Director of World AIDS Campaign. “The current global economic climate makes the actions by CUPE and WAC vital.”

For more information, contact one of the following coordinators:

Universal Access Campaign coordination and communications:

Jennifer Slawich, Canadian Labour Congress at jslawich@clc-ctc.ca