Sunday, 24 July 2016

Global Aids Fight Jeopardised By Funding Drought.


By Angela Oketch
Donors have been told this is not the right time to withdraw their HIV/Aids funding, with a warning that such cuts would see a "rebound in the epidemic."

The warning comes as HIV donor funding to support low- and middle-income countries decreased by over $985 million.

The decrease, which fell for the first time in five years from $8.6 billion to $7.5 billion, will specifically affect plans to reach more patients with lifesaving medicine.

A high profile panel led by UNAids Executive Director Michel Sidibe said the funding cuts come against the backdrop of new infections in adults and thus "going back will be a disaster."

He pleaded: "If we don't continue with global solidarity and shared responsibility, then millions of people will develop drug resistance. I do not see any country ... managing alone."

He said the world would lose all the investment it has made in the fight, adding that it will have to pay more later.

"We saw this with malaria; we reached a level where we were able to feel that we have defeated malaria. Today we have to pay more again because we stopped," he said.

At least 2.5 million people have been infected in the past decade, according to the Global Burden of Disease 2015 (GBD 2015) study, published today in The Lancet HIV journal.

"I am scared that today we are back in South Africa again in difficult times. The world is facing many other competing priorities like terrorism and migration," said the executive director.

Mr Sidibe said more young girls are being infected and it is a major area of concern.

He further said the decline in funding would risk the world plunging back to 16 years ago when hospitals were full of people dying of HIV/Aids.

"We were called to ensure that treatment could be made available for the people, at the time less than one million people were on treatment. Today, 11 million people are on antiretroviral treatment, "he shared.

South Africa Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said despite the successes, the fight against HIV, Aids and TB is not over.

"Too many people living with HIV do not know their status. Too many do not have access to treatment. The rate of infection remains stubbornly high, particularly among the most vulnerable populations."

He said there is a need to ensure that adolescents and young adults, both male and female, receive information and advice on how to access condoms and pre-exposure prophylaxis (which prevents HIV infection) and this would be affected by the slashed budgets.


The East African (Nairobi)


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