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IPS Examines How Funding Cuts Might Affect HIV/AIDS Treatment Programs Worldwide

Inter Press Service examines how “[f]ailure to sustain funding for HIV/AIDS treatment programmes could lead to a rising number of deaths, particularly in Africa.” Examples cited by the news service include: “The Tanzanian government … had to reduce its HIV budget by a quarter, while Swaziland lowered its 2011 treatment coverage target from 60 percent to 50 percent, which will affect about 40,000 HIV-positive people.” In Uganda, “some PEPFAR-funded non-governmental organizations” were “instructed to stop enrolment in treatment,” and “Malawi is expecting national drug shortages and in the process of putting into place an emergency plan.”

During the 5th International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, that concluded Wednesday, Eric Goemaere, head of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in South Africa, spoke about the current gaps in funding for international HIV/AIDS programs, expressing, as described by IPS, that “the threat to HIV funding has less to do with the global financial crisis than with a general lack of commitment from some rich nations, such as France and Italy, who provide 0.4 percent and 0.1 percent of all global HIV/AIDS resources, despite the size of their economies.”

Hoosen Coovadia from the University of KwaZulu-Natal suggested that more money would be available for international HIV/AIDS programs if only “governments were implementing health programmes more efficiently,” IPS writes. “We have wasted money by not planning and targeting properly,” Coovadia said. “As a result, our services are collapsing. We need real leadership and cost-effective interventions.”

IPS writes: PEPFAR, “which contributes more than $3.7 billion to HIV prevention and care globally, has not increased its budget this year, despite President Barack Obama’s promise of an annual increase of $1 billion. Another key global donor, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has announced it is facing a budget shortfall of between three and four billion dollars.”  The article quotes other HIV experts and examines antiretroviral stock-outs and the risk of drug resistance (Palitza, 7/22).