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Holding the Government Accountable in the Era of Social Media
So much has been said about the Global Fund and the role of government in providing coverage for their populations. The speaker at the presentation I attended today talked about how 81 poor countries around the world have increased GDP, but people in these countries are still poor, especially in urban areas. By 2025, 60% of the wealth in the world will be concentrated in 600 cities. Two out of every three people infected with HIV will be living in a city by 2030. The role of the civil society in advancing the HIV agenda is critical to achieving better results. The role of young activists in our cities in outreach and advocacy is extremely important.
The National HIV strategy has made significant progress in the US. One in four people in the US achieves an undetectable Viral Load because of access to Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART), but is that really a good measurement in such a wealthy country? The Affordable Care Act will hopefully improve results. However, holding government accountable by becoming educated advocators in our communities is paramount to achieving the desired results. There was a discussion in the Global Village this afternoon about this topic specifically. Holding government accountable means creating partnerships with them, demanding participation in the reporting that comes from these government initiatives (such as PEPFAR), and asking questions to local authorities. Show your commitment to make sure those results reflect your community. The role of NGOs is crucial to promoting this goal.
There was a big discussion about the role of social media (redes sociales) in mobilizing communities for the common good. I am amazed by the passion that these young activists show and how activism has changed in the era of Facebook and Twitter. However, I think Latin America still has a long way to go. Lack of internet access, fear of disclosing HIV status, and the fear of stigma still create a huge hurdle for people. Young activists, especially in cities around Latin America, have a responsibility to empower their communities and push governments to honor their commitments to the health of their people. More and more people in the region are connected through smartphones today. This is a missed outreach opportunity to make people aware of the challenges faced by the movement. The passion is there, as shown by “Jovenes Latinos con VIH,” but there is still a long road to achieve the levels of activism seen in the developed world. Their participation at the International AIDS Conference is a good start, but there is still work ahead.
Dino Mosquera is an Embajador for the National Latino AIDS Action Network attending the AIDS 2012 Conference.