By Suzette Moses-Burton, Executive Director, GNP+
On behalf of GNP+ I would like to raise three issues on this thematic.
1) It is very appropriate that this issue of social protection is being discussed as we move toward the goal of achieving three zeros. Pills without protection mean NOTHING. The health and well being of our lives as people living with HIV should not and cannot be defined simply by our ability to access treatment.
2) We applaud those who are working on the issue of social protection in meaningful partnership with PLHIV so that what is put in place and what needs to be put in place reflects the value of our lived experience and aspirations as People Living with HIV.
3) The need for social protection raises a series of complex issues that go well beyond the boundaries of HIV and speak to the larger issues of social justice, equity and human rights. However in the context of HIV, social protection will raise even more complex issues as an increasing number of us are not only able to live, but to more clearly articulate HOW we want to live. This will require tailored and specific solutions. For we not only need to live but to prepare for what was not so long ago the unthinkable aspiration of living longer.
People Living with HIV we know, not only want but have a right to work, to contribute, to be able to plan for themselves and their families (however people wish to define this) their dependants, partners and children’s futures – and for those of you who do not think that is the case there are two large doors at the back of this room and I am sure that any of the people living with HIV in this room will help you find them… as we wish you well in your new career.
Ok nobody has gone…
For many of us living with HIV, HIV has caused, and continues to cause, ‘dislocation’ in our plans and aspirations; the cost of our ‘care’ may well go down but we know it does not fall like manna from the heavens… and even with greater equity of access (which we are still a long way from) some of the ‘cost’ of it may fall disproportionately upon us as PLHIV; how can we help you to help us to plan for this?
To highlight one issue:
If we had been having this conversation 20 years ago we would have been talking about how social protection could provide better burial plans or how we feed and keep orphans alive. Now we are talking about how we conceptualise, develop and implement a range of responses that allow for positive health and dignity throughout the working, reproductive and, dare I add, retirement years of our lives.
The argument has always been that putting people on ARV’s not only makes good economic and business sense, but is also the right thing to do. ARV’s reduce healthcare costs and enable us to be active contributors rather than merely passive dependents.
So, in closing, a question and a challenge:
As more of us live longer and begin approaching our twilight years” when we, like you, should be enjoying ‘active’ but relaxed, happy and secure ‘retirement’ – and the numbers if we get to zero, will thankfully increase exponentially… how do we plan and fund this, what is the social protection case and how do we achieve it?