Jul 16, 2016 News
Maintaining the gains made in tackling HIV could be challenged by dwindling donor funding. In fact donor funding has declined to its lowest levels since 2010.
This is according to recently released UNAIDS Prevention Gap Report.
According to the Report, international donor contributions for HIV have dropped from a peak of US$9.7 billion in 2013 to US$8.1 billion in 2015.
However, low- and middle-income countries are stepping up to fill the gap, with domestic resources accounting for 57 per cent of the US$19.2 billion total funding in 2015.
But even as the struggle continues to arrest the spread of the disease, United Nations Special Envoy, Dr. Edward Greene, recently revealed that the Government of Guyana has exhibited the right attitude in terms of financing.
“When we met the Minister of Finance in late January, I must say he was very sensitive to the need to sustain the investment in health, and particular in HIV, where it is important,” said Dr. Greene.
According to the UNAIDS Report, although international funding, the main source of funding for HIV prevention for people at higher risk of HIV, has reduced, some major donors are making bold commitments to ensure that funding reaches the people most affected by HIV.
In June 2016, the United States of America announced the launch of a new US$100 million Key Populations Investment Fund to increase access to HIV services for key populations.
The current allocation of resources for HIV prevention is falling far short of what is needed. Currently, 20 per cent of global resources for HIV are being spent on HIV prevention. The report indicates that to have maximum impact, funding should focus on the location and population approach in order to reach people at higher risk with combination prevention options where they live and work.
Combination HIV prevention, gaps and opportunities
Compared to 20 years ago when HIV prevention options were limited, there is now a range of options available to suit people’s needs throughout their lives to ensure that they can protect themselves from HIV, the Report highlights.
UNAIDS is therefore urging countries to take a location and population approach to HIV programming efforts following five prevention pillars, to be delivered comprehensively and in combination. These are programmes for young women and adolescent girls and their male partners in high-prevalence locations; key population services in all countries; strengthened national condom programmes; voluntary medical male circumcision in priority countries and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for population groups at higher risk of HIV infection, the Report adds.
Closing the HIV prevention gap
“Science, innovation and research have provided new and effective HIV prevention options, rapid diagnostics and improved treatment for HIV,” said UNAIDS Executive Director, Mr. Michel Sidibé. “Investing in innovation is the only way to secure the next big breakthrough—a cure or a vaccine.”
The data in the report, collected from more than 160 countries, demonstrate that enormous gains can be achieved when concerted efforts are made. It outlines that by 2015 some 17 million people had access to antiretroviral therapy, double the number in 2010 and 22 times the number in the year 2000.
The Report notes that UNAIDS will be calling on implementers, innovators, communities, scientists, donors and others at the 2016 International AIDS Conference, taking place from July 18 to July22, in Durban, South Africa, to close the prevention gap.
Impact of Antiretroviral Therapy
Although the full benefits may not be seen for some years, the realisation of antiretroviral therapy having an impact on preventing new HIV infections has commenced, the Report said.
The report estimates that 57 per cent or over half of all people living with HIV, now know their HIV status.
It also points out that 46 per cent of all people living with HIV have access to antiretroviral treatment and that 38 per cent of all people living with HIV have viral suppression, keeping them healthy and preventing onward transmission of the virus.
This, therefore, underscores the urgent need for the UNAIDS 90–90–90 targets to be met to realize the full potential of antiretroviral therapy, the report adds. The 90–90–90 targets are 90 per cent of people knowing their HIV status, 90 per cent of people who know their status accessing antiretroviral treatment and 90 per cent of people on treatment having suppressed viral loads.
The report details the trajectory of new HIV infections and looks at which populations and which locations are most affected. It also outlines where countries need to make more tailored HIV prevention investments.
Added to this, the report shows the complexity of the AIDS epidemic and how the populations and locations most affected change dramatically across each country and region. It also shows that investments need to be made in effective HIV programmes that are proven to make a significant difference in reducing the number of new HIV infections.
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