AIDSfreeAFRICA was created when Dr. Hodel asked herself two related questions: "What is my life for? And what will I do when I’ve completed my doctorate in Chemistry? I have been inspired by the United Nations since the day in 1989 that I first visited the UN as a tourist. Fourteen years later, I attended a UN conference, this time as UN representative for Servas, an international peace organization I had been a member of for 15+ years. It was in that capacity, that on September 8, 2003, I had the good fortune to attend a speech by Liuz Inacio Lula da Silva, President of Brazil, in which he laid out his country’s successful strategy to get a handle on the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Boldly, he ordered
Brazil’s pharmaceutical industry to produce affordable, generic HIV/AIDS drugs, and then began a crusade to convince the nations of the world that this is an emergency situation which calls for emergency measures. He challenged his fellow statesmen to work toward the release of existing patents that prevent the manufacture of generic and thus more affordable versions of antiretroviral drugs.
As of this writing, in 2005, Lula da Silva’s challenge has begun to show results. A few, crucial HIV/AIDS drugs have been released from patent protection for generic manufacturing in developing country’s. Today, Brazil has less than half of AIDS case predicted, down to 600 000. Half of those are on AIDS drugs. This having been said, the fight has only just begun. The politics of AIDS still manifests in thousands of lost lives, and even with all those who are trying to make a difference, we are far from turning the tide.However, I had found the answer to my questions.
A PROJECT IS BORN:
A year later in 2004, unsure of how to proceed after my $15 million grant proposal had been rejected by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, my Servas friend Gary Sealey gave me a simple, yet valuable piece of advice. He said "you need a community to pull this off,"
and I knew just were to go to. The Self Expression Leadership Program offered by Landmark Education Corporation offered what I needed. On Monday August 2, 2004 I submitted AIDSfreeAFRICA to the 75 participants of my Landmark Education seminar as my mandatory community project. I did not expect it to be accepted, it was just too off the walls. But it was accepted, and the rest -- as they say -- is history."
Cast: Susan Finelli