nternational funding for HIV fell by 10 percent in 2010 from the previous year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation and UNAIDS; activists worry that a continued reduction will undermine progress in global HIV prevention and treatment efforts.
In their annual report on international assistance for HIV/AIDS in low- and middle- income countries, the two organizations report that funding fell from US$7.6 billion in 2009 to $6.9 billion in 2010. This is the first time funding has dropped in more than a decade of tracking HIV/AIDS spending; between 2002 and 2008, spending rose more than six-fold before levelling off in 2009.
"The slowdown in spending is worrying because it comes at a time when treatment as prevention has been proposed to curb HIV infections, which will require heavy investment," said James Kamau, coordinator of the Kenya Treatment Access Movement.
The report's authors attribute the drop to reductions in development assistance, currency exchange fluctuations and a slowdown in the pace of disbursements from the US government. Seven of 15 governments surveyed - Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the US - reported a year-on-year drop in their disbursements as measured in their own currencies.
"The US experienced a slower rate of disbursement in 2010 compared to the prior year, from $4.4 billion in 2009 to $3.7 billion in 2010, despite US enacted levels holding steady," the report states. "The slowdown occurred as a result of additional requirements put in place by Congress in 2008 during reauthorization of the PEPFAR [the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief]."
Despite the slower pace in spending, the US remained the largest donor in the world, accounting for an estimated 54.2 percent of disbursements by governments, followed by the UK at 13 percent, France at 5.8 percent and the Netherlands at 5.1 percent. Germany and Denmark contributed 4.5 percent and 2.5 percent respectively.
"We recognize that the US is experiencing economic difficulties and so are other major donors; Japan, for instance, was a major donor to the Global Fund [to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] but has had a major natural disaster so needs to divert funds there," Kamau added. "It is therefore time to get our own governments moving to fund their epidemics...PEPFAR is an emergency plan, and not intended to last for ever."
Kamau stressed that African governments needed to abide by the 2001 Abuja Declaration, whereby they committed to spend at least 15 percent of their national budgets on health.
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