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International News

Economic Crisis Threatens AIDS Fight: Expert

April 20, 2009

The executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria on Monday warned that disease-fighting efforts could be jeopardized by the worldwide financial crisis. Speaking on the sidelines of the International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) conference in Bangkok, Michel Kazatchkine worried that fund donors will be unable to meet their pledges.

"The financial crisis obviously is affecting the rich countries and therefore I am very concerned about their ability to keep up development aid commitments," said Kazatchkine. "In global health, it is a slow slope to make progress, it takes you time to actually see the gains. If the efforts are not sustained we will lose a lot of gains that we have made in the last six to eight years."

The Global Fund is expected to have a $4 billion budget deficit for the 2008-10 period. This shortfall, Kazatchkine said, threatens HIV prevention and treatment programs in the developing world. "This is why, paradoxically, it is during a financial crisis that you need even more funding," he said.

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During his keynote speech to IHRA, the Global Fund head called for decriminalizing drug use as a way to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS. "I am talking about decriminalization of drug users," said Kazatchkine. "I am not talking about decriminalization of drug trafficking, there should not be any misunderstanding."

"Drug users have been looked [upon] as criminals; they are arrested, harassed; they are imprisoned; they have no access to services; they are not respected in the very basic human rights perspective," Kazatchkine added.

Back to other news for April 2009

Adapted from:
Agence France Presse
04.20.2009; Danny Kemp


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
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