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Global Fund Withdrawal From Romania Negatively Impacting HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Reflecting on a visit to Bucharest last week in an effort “to understand the origin of the recent outbreak of HIV among people who use drugs in the city,” Michel Kazatchkine, the U.N. secretary-general’s special envoy for AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, writes in the Huffington Post U.K.’s “Politics” blog, “I am disheartened to say that the fears of many of us working in global health held about the potential negative impact on the HIV/AIDS epidemic caused by the withdrawal of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria from a number of countries, including Romania, have been realized.” He notes, “Romania’s ‘middle income’ country status has ruled it ineligible to receive Global Fund money and since 2011, the gap in service provision, especially to people who inject drugs (PWID) cannot be met by a civil society sector that receives no State funding whatsoever.”

Kazatchkine recounts several “tragic Bucharest stories” from PWID, writing, “These … stories are being or will be repeated in other countries where the Global Fund is leaving and it is no coincidence that increases in HIV amongst PWID have begun to surface in Romania.” He continues, “Eastern Europe nations and other economies in transition are facing dramatic HIV/AIDS emergencies amongst PWID. Decision makers within those countries remain blind to this reality.” He concludes, “After my meetings with government officials I’m of the view that the HIV/AIDS scenario in Romania and countries that find themselves in a similar funding situation will not change in the coming months or indeed, years” (10/14).