Who is Humphrey Nabimanya?
For starters, he is blogging for RNW's Africa Desk during the XIX International AIDS Conference, taking place from 22 to 27 July 2012 in Washington, D.C.
Humphrey is also host of Youth Voice, the most viewed TV show for young people in Uganda (NBS TV). His is the only programme in the country which openly addresses issues like sexuality and relationships.
Growing up with HIV-positive guardians, Humphrey struggled with being discriminated against at school. But he came to turn this around by deciding to educate his classmates about HIV/AIDS. And today he is the proud founder of Reach A Hand Uganda, an organization bringing together those who want to contribute to Ugandan society by providing knowledge and skills to young people.
A wave of protests continues to hit the AIDS 2012 conference, which is on its fifth day in Washington. And I was thrilled to have witnessed on Wednesday the latest stunt which saw more than 50 activists from AIDS Healthcare Foundation storm drug giant Gilead Sciences booth.
By Humphrey Nabimanya, Washington, D.C.
The protest was against Gilead’s refusal to lower its drug prices for cash-strapped AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs), despite the company having generated $6.5 billion (5.28 billion euros) in revenue from AIDS drugs in 2011.
All the protesters wore masks of Gilead’s CEO, John Martin and they wrapped the booth in crime scene tapes. They also chanted slogans like “Hey hey, ho ho, Gilead’s prices have got to go” and “Medication for every nation.” Later, they lay down pretending to be corpses to stress on their message that there are too many lives at stake for this issue to be ignored.
While talking to one of the protesters, I was shocked to learn that more than 2,000 Americans in nine states are on waiting lists to receive AIDS drugs. And that’s because the American government simply cannot keep up with the funding of expensive medication like Gilead's Truvada. The drug prevents the cells from producing new virus and decreases the amount of virus in the body.
I am deeply upset when I also learnt that John Martin earns more than $42 million (34.2 million euros) a year, making him the 10th highest paid CEO in the US, according to the most recent Forbes List.
But afterwards, I could not hide the fact that I felt a sense of helplessness. If this is the case in the world’s richest country, what about my poor people in my own Uganda? How will they be able to afford such drugs when the situation is already so unjust at its source?