Here I Am -- An Activist's Story

Marco Benjamin, 32, of New Brunswick, N.J., second from right, who is HIV positive, walks in the AIDS March in Washington, Su
Marco Benjamin, 32, of New Brunswick, N.J., second from right, who is HIV positive, walks in the AIDS March in Washington, Sunday, July 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Earlier this week, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria released a summary of Global Fund results in 2012. This report re-iterates the Global Funds vision of a world free from the burden of AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria and documents the Global Funds' role in achieving the vision.

As a TB-HIV advocate from Kenya who has actively supported the Global Fund for a number of years, I find people are always shocked to discover both how far we have come and how far we have to go.

Only a decade ago very few people were receiving treatment. Today thanks to the Global Fund, 3.6 million people are receiving antiretroviral therapy for HIV/AIDS, 9.3 million people have been treated for tuberculosis and 270 million insecticide-treated nets have been distributed to protect families from malaria. An astonishing 8.7 million lives have been saved -- you can see the report here.

Laurindo Garcia is a 39-year-old activist from the Philippines who works on issues related to HIV and human rights. Laurindo is one of the 8.7 million lives saved. In this week's "Here I Am" video, Laurindo and his father discuss their experience when Laurindo shared his HIV status and his decision to come out as a gay man with HIV in order to reduce the stigma around being HIV+ in the Philippines.

The Global Fund has supported programs that are targeted at what we call "most-at-risk populations" -- such as sex workers, men who have sex with men, and people who inject drugs. However, while nearly half of community-based prevention activities overall are directed at these most-at-risk populations, only about 3 percent of all Global Fund activities target most-at-risk populations in my region in sub-Saharan Africa. Most-at-risk can often also be the hardest to reach. We need a fully-funded Global Fund that can support targeted interventions, often delivered by civil society organizations, for those those most-at-risk and ensure that they can access the treatment and support that is needed.

Globally, the Fund provides nearly half of the ARVs that are provided to people living with HIV/AIDS -- yet only slightly more than half of all those who need treatment can access it. As Laurindo's story shows, there is still much to be done: in the Philippines, of the 8,700 people living with HIV, only 1,274 are receiving life saving ARV treatments.

You can view this two minute story below or at this site. With the Big Push to replenish the Global Fund next year, Laurindo's story is one of the 8.7 million reasons we need to fully-fund the Global Fund.

Lucy Chesire: TB-HIV advocate from Kenya, Alternate Board Member of the Global Fund Board Communities Delegation

About the Here I Am campaign: The Here I Am campaign is a global call on world leaders to save millions of lives by supporting a fully funded Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Here I Am brings the voices of people that are directly affected by AIDS, TB and malaria into dialogue about decisions that affect their lives and the lives of millions of others in their countries. Through video testimonies from all over the world, campaign ambassador advocacy, online actions and on-the-ground mobilizations, the Here I Am campaign is building collective power to end three of the world's most deadly diseases.