August 15, 2011
Geneva/Menlo Park, Calif. -- Funding disbursements from donor governments for the AIDS response in low- and middle-income countries fell in 2010, dropping 10% from the previous year's level, according to an annual funding analysis conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
The study found that donor governments disbursed US$ 6.9 billion in 2010 for HIV prevention, treatment, care and support -- US$ 740 million less than in 2009. The decrease was due to a combination of three main factors: actual reductions in development assistance, currency exchange fluctuations, and a slowdown in the pace of U.S. disbursements, which was not a budget cut.
Of the 15 governments surveyed, seven -- Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United States -- reported a year over year decrease in their disbursements as measured in their own currencies. The figures presented in the report are in US dollars, consistent with international standards and other reporting mechanisms.
Due to currency fluctuations, when measured in US dollars, Australia showed a slight increase in its AIDS funding contribution even though it contributed less in its own currency. Conversely, there was a slight decrease in Denmark's contribution despite the country's increased funding level in its own currency.
"AIDS is a smart investment even in this difficult economic environment. We have to look beyond the near-term costs and recognize the long-term benefits," said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. "Donors need to make and follow through on commitments today to reduce costs in the future."
The overall drop in disbursements was primarily attributed to a reduction in disbursements by the United States, the largest donor nation, which accounted for 54% of total donor disbursements in 2010. While the United States Congress appropriated similar levels of funding for the AIDS response in 2010 as in 2009 (approximately US$ 5.5 billion in each year), disbursements from the United States declined from US$ 4.4 billion in 2009 to US$ 3.7 billion in 2010. This slowdown stems from new requirements established by Congress for the United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Some funds appropriated in 2010 will be disbursed in later years.
"With U.S. funding delayed but not eliminated to this point, this year's drop in spending may be a temporary blip, though its impact on services may be real," said Drew Altman, Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO.
To reach universal access goals towards HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, UNAIDS estimates that an investment of at least US$ 22 billion will be needed by 2015. Raising this level of funding could avert more than 12 million new HIV infections and more than seven million deaths, according to UNAIDS.
At the United Nations High Level Meeting on AIDS in June 2011, UN Member States committed to bold new targets for the AIDS response which include increasing investments for AIDS to between US$ 22-24 billion by 2015.
According to the latest estimates from UNAIDS, 34 million [30.9 million-36.9 million] people were living with HIV at the end of 2010 and nearly 30 million [25 million-33 million] have died from AIDS-related causes since AIDS was first reported 30 years ago.