BOB Geldof told a gathering at AIDS 2014 that while advancements in fighting AIDS have been staggering in the past three decades, a “preposterous reluctance to fund the last mile” in research was “disgraceful”.
The British singer/songwriter and anti-poverty activist made the comments earlier today during a discussion with media personality Waleed Aly at the 20th International AIDS Conference being held in Melbourne.
He also said the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Africa was symptomatic of the greater problem which is poverty, and that political solutions from around the world to help eradicate poverty was not only achievable, but it would also have a flow-on effect in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
However, Geldof attacked the Australian Government for cutting foreign aid to some of the poorest countries in the world, despite the 2007 commitment to increase foreign aid contribution to 0.5 per cent of gross national income by 2016-17.
He said that because of the country’s wealth, we have an obligation to help the world’s poorest.
“Remember, you’re one of the richest countries in the world, even though you have your problems and you feel the pinch,” he said.
“The Australian people gave their word to the poorest people on the planet. You can’t break your sovereign word to the poorest people, it’s like beating up an infant.”
“You can’t fuck around with your political promise.”
Geldof also also dismissed the “white saviour” notion and highlighted how gender inequality and some religious extremism throughout Africa played a part in adding to the stigma and shame of HIV, especially when fundamentalist churches do not want to have anything to do with homosexuality.
Geldof praised the work done by AIDS researches in the past 30 years, calling their work an “extraordinary” progress.
While he said he believed a cure was not very far away, at a press conference on Monday HIV scientists and researchers, including AIDS 2014 co-chair Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, would not be drawn on when a cure would come around.
“We cannot really answer. And we should not give any dates. I don’t think we should give any hope,” Barre-Sinoussi said.
Geldof later on made an appearance at the conference’s Global Village.
(Picture credit: Rod Spark; Star Observer)