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Commitments To Global HIV/AIDS Programs Falter For ‘First Time In 15 Years,’ UNAIDS Chief Says

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe “said Thursday that global contributions to fighting [HIV/AIDS] are dropping off for the first time in 15 years amid tough economic times,” Agence France-Presse reports.

“The world economic recession is pushing countries … to enforce austerity,” Sidibe said during a press conference in Tokyo during which he called upon Japan to maintain its support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. “Governments and donors are second-guessing in terms of their budget and priorities,” he added.

Sidibe stressed that increasing access to HIV/AIDS medication would require simpler and lower-cost drug treatments (9/2).

Sidibe’s message in Japan echoed appeals he made earlier in the week for the international community to invest $10 billion in global HIV/AIDS programs to help countries worldwide achieve universal access for prevention, treatment and care programs, according to the U.N. News Centre.

“There are currently 10 million people living with HIV who are waiting for life-saving treatment. Unless we close the funding gap, millions of people will be turned away from the promise of universal access,” Sidibe said Tuesday in Australia, the U.N. News Centre writes.

“Just weeks before the upcoming funding replenishment meeting of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria … Sidibe discussed sustaining and enhancing investments in AIDS programmes with Peter Baxter, the head of AusAID, the government’s aid agency,” the news service adds. The article mentions other officials the UNAIDS head met during his five-day trip (9/1).

“In Melbourne, the executive director delivered the keynote address at the 63rd U.N. DPI/NGO conference,” UNAIDS adds, noting “U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon opened the health-themed conference with a video message in which he underscored the many gains made in global health, including greater access to HIV treatment,” while also noting the challenges ahead to meeting the Millennium Development Goals (8/31).