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[Published: Wednesday July 08 2009]


Economic downturn threatens fight againt HIV, warns UN agency
Washington DC, 07 July 2009 - (ANA) –Following a new report released by
the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Bank, 
it shows that eight countries – which together are home to more than
60 per cent of all those receiving AIDS treatment – are facing
shortages of antiretroviral drugs or other disruptions to treatment.
“We cannot afford a ‘lost generation’ of people as a result of this
crisis,” said Joy Phumaphi, the World Bank’s Vice President for Human
The report, The Global Economic Crisis and HIV Prevention and Treatment
Programs: Vulnerabilities and Impact, warns the well-being of millions
of people could be put at risk as HIV prevention and treatment programs
fall victim to funding cutbacks as a result of the global economic
downturn. It states 34 out of the 71 surveyed countries report that HIV
prevention programmes focusing on high-risk groups such as sex workers,
injection drug users and men who have sex with men are already feeling
the impact of the crisis.
Executive Director Michel Sidibé added that any interruption or slowing
down in funding would be a disaster for the 4 million people on
treatment and the millions more currently being reached by HIV
prevention programmes.
A report by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on progress on HIV/AIDS
commitments shows that achieving national universal access targets set
by the General Assembly in 2006 by 2010 will require an estimated
annual outlay of $25 billion within two years.
According to the joint report, the steps to maintain and expand access
to HIV treatment and prevention during the economic crisis are using
existing funding better, addressing urgent funding gaps and monitoring
risks of programme interruption. It also recommends looking at sources
of financing that can be sustained over the long term.
During the General Assembly convened last month to assess progress in
the response to the global epidemic, Mr. Ban said the economic crisis
should not be an excuse to abandon commitments. Rather, it should be an
impetus to make the right investments that will yield benefits for
generations to come.
The latest news release issued by the agencies shows there are no
reports of major cuts in donor assistance for 2009. However, it was
reported that current funding commitments for treatment programs in
nearly 40 per cent of the countries examined will end in 2009 or 2010.
It is feared that external aid will not increase or even be maintained
at current levels.
“Now is not the time to falter,” he said, noting that a vigorous and
effective response to the AIDS epidemic is integrally linked to meeting
global commitments to reduce poverty, prevent hunger, lower childhood
mortality, and protect the
health and well being of women. (ANA)
SL/ANA/07 July 2009 ---


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