AIDS Experts: Spend Funds More Wisely to Fight Epidemic in Latin America Region
April 10, 2003
Latin American and Caribbean countries must double the $1.2 billion they spend yearly in fighting AIDS to treat the disease effectively and keep it from spreading, an official said at a UN conference Tuesday in Havana. The money spent now "just isn't enough" said Nina Ferencic, a program development adviser for UNAIDS. "Often, the distribution of the funds are discriminatory and the groups most at need don't get the money: men having sex with men, intravenous drug users," she added.Adapted from:
There are nearly 2 million people with HIV/AIDS in Latin America and the Caribbean, regional AIDS specialists said. With an adult HIV incidence of 2.3 percent, the Caribbean is second only to sub-Saharan Africa in scope and impact of the epidemic, according to UNAIDS. HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death in several Caribbean countries, including Haiti and the Bahamas, the agency said.
Cuban President Fidel Castro attended but did not address the conference. He met Monday night and Tuesday afternoon with conference leader Dr. Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS.
Progress has been made to ensure care and treatment for people with HIV/AIDS in the region, Piot said in a statement. However, gaps remain, and the money to fight the epidemic is unevenly distributed. Piot said recent international funding includes $155 million through the World Bank's Multi-Country HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Project for the Caribbean and $325 million through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The global fund grant covers 11 countries over five years. "The challenge now is to continue this momentum and for governments to spend the money effectively and efficiently," Piot said.
04.08.03; Anita Snow