Activist Sir Bob Geldof has used poetry and profanity in a call to arms, urging AIDS workers to overcome indifference and secure the funds needed to continue the fight.
He told the delegates in a closing address to the AIDS 2014 conference the remaining “choke points” in the fight against HIV/AIDS were funding and distribution of medicine.
The big challenge they faced would be convincing the world to fund a cure, he said.
“Sometimes I have to use inflammatory language,” Geldof told the audience.
“There’s nothing more profane than this disease which this conference is trying to deal with.”
Recalling two hours of global news footage from Friday morning, he said nowhere was the AIDS conference mentioned – not even on news from Melbourne, which hosted the event.
This, he said, was despite the AIDS community’s progress being one of “the great human stories of our time”.
“Only 30 years since I sat terrified with a dying friend in New York, you’ve nearly nailed it,” Geldof said, lamenting the fact the effort still “begs for cash”.
“On this last mile, on this final hurdle, we cannot allow indifference, incapable governance to stop the final victory which is coming,” Geldof said.
He criticised several nations for not giving more to the Global Fund established to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
In 2013, Russia made a contribution of $US100 million from a GDP of $US2 trillion and South Africa – which the International AIDS Society says is the world’s worst AIDS-affected nation – gave $US1.5 million from its budget of $US376 billion, Geldof said.
“Yet throughout eastern Europe, with its brutish nonsense, the figures escalate,” he said.
“Africa of course, unmentioned, but that is where the vast bulk of the victims of AIDS, TB and malaria reside.”
He said indifference to AIDS was driven by assumptions the disease was a problem for Africa or the homosexual community.
“We must, must call out that prejudice,” he said.
“The beast is riding high,” Geldof said, quoting John Keats.
“Underlying all of this there is a terrible darkness and you represent the light,” he told the delegates.
And he closed with a quote from Lord Alfred Tennyson.
“Come friends, it’s not too late to make the world anew.”