HIV/AIDS needs more funding: Report

Experts have said that just controlling HIV and AIDS would require finances to the tune of $397bn and $733bn over the next 20 years and unless more money is spent the pandemic will continue to spread. They said that funds need to increase from 2009 otherwise the infections could rise from 2.3 million a year to 3.2 million by 2031. This appeared in a report by the aids2031 financing group, headed by the Results for Development Institute in Washington DC.

The warning came up in the Lancet medical journal where the expert advisory committee says that it is “increasingly improbable” in tough economic times that donors and governments will find enough money to fund a rapid increase in universal access to prevention and treatment services by 2015. It is estimated that would prevent about 7 million more deaths and 14.2 million infections than if efforts continued on the present scale.

This week donors in New York pledged $11.7 billion for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria. This is less than the $13 billion it had set as the minimum to fund the current disease-fighting programs. The Global Fund and Pepfar (the US president's emergency plan for AIDS relief) are the two biggest sources of funding for AIDS prevention and treatment in developing countries.

However all of it is not just warning. The aids2031 paper cited some effective ways of fund utilizations. It suggests that developing countries with higher incomes and less intense epidemics, such as China, India and the Ukraine, may be capable of taking over the costs of fighting HIV themselves, leaving more money for poorer countries. Dr Robert Hecht, the managing director of the institute and lead author of the paper said that the results “suggest that we have a long, hard road ahead of us in terms of what it is going to take to combat Aids. But there is a window of opportunity in the next couple of years. Countries can really change where they are going in terms of how many lives they save and infections they prevent… It is a hopeful message. The leaders in these countries have some rather distinct choices. The key thing is to spend the money extremely well and get the most value from it.” Some suggestions also included investing in effective prevention techniques, such as circumcision, while stepping up behavior change campaigns and seeking low-cost drugs for treatment.

Countries were divided into three strata - those with high burden of disease and low income (such as Mozambique), those with low disease burden and middle income (such as China) and those with high disease burden and middle income (such as South Africa). For the first group the report said, “What these countries are starting to spend is going to be anywhere between 3% and 6% of GDP. That is a staggering fact to think about.”

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations is concerned that programs in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea could be at risk. Executive Director Don Baxter revealed that some of those programs have had corruption issues making it difficult to fight for funding and that fight could become more difficult. He said, “Well I think we could see the HIV epidemic in Papua New Guinea as probably the most serious risk. If Papua New Guinea is not successful in its global fund application this year, then there is going to be much more call, I think, on Australia to provide money…Australia already provides about $60 million a year for HIV in Papua New Guinea and so we are the biggest donor outside of the global fund.” Unlike other countries, Australia increased it's commitment to the Global Fund by 55 per cent.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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