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New York Times Examines Global Fight Against HIV/AIDS

May 10, 2010

Several articles in the New York Times examine the global fight against HIV/AIDS. "Uganda is the first country where major clinics routinely turn people away" because they lack funding, the newspaper writes in an article that reports "money for [HIV/AIDS] treatment has stopped growing." According to the newspaper, "American officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed the financing freeze" in Uganda. The article explores reasons for the U.S. funding cap there, including corruption.

The New York Times notes that other countries in Africa have reported not being able to enroll new HIV patients into treatment programs. "I'm worried we'll be in a 'Kampala situation' in other countries soon," the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby said.

The article details the shortcomings of science to tackle the global epidemic, and the failure of HIV prevention strategies, noting, "For every 100 people put on treatment, 250 are newly infected, according to the United Nations' AIDS-fighting agency, UNAIDS."

Though the WHO's latest treatment guidelines recommend that 14 million of the 33 million people living with HIV/AIDS receive treatment for the disease, "fewer than four million are on treatment. Just to meet the minimal WHO guidelines, donations would have to treble instead of going flat," the New York Times writes.

The article examines how the global economic downturn has impacted donor funding for global HIV/AIDS programs along with "a growing sense that more lives would be saved by fighting other, cheaper diseases," including "child-killers like stillbirth, pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, measles and tetanus. Cures for those killers, like antibiotics, mosquito nets, rehydration salts, water filters, shots and deworming pills, cost $1 to $10."

"What I see is making me very scared," said Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS. "Without a change of heart among donors, Mr. Sidibe said, 'the whole hope I've had for the last 10 years will disappear.' Donors give about $10 billion a year, while controlling the epidemic would cost $27 billion a year, he estimated," the newspaper writes.

The article notes some positive trends: "Middle-income countries with limited epidemics, like India, Brazil and Russia, can probably treat all their patients without outside help. China almost certainly can. South Africa might; it has a raging epidemic but is rich by African standards. But for most of Africa and scattered other countries like Haiti, Guyana and Cambodia, it seems inevitable that the 1990s will return: walking skeletons in the villages, stacks of bodies in morgues, mountains of newly turned earth in cemeteries."

The piece also features comments by Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, former UNAIDS Head Peter Piot, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Chief Anthony Fauci, and health workers on the ground in Uganda (McNeil [1], 5/9).

A second article looks at efforts to raise funds to support fighting HIV/AIDS, noting the U.S.' contributions to PEPFAR and the Global Fund, and how such contributions are affected by President Barack Obama's Global Health Initiative.

Though "Congress has authorized PEPFAR to spend up to $48 billion by 2014 ... the Obama administration has other plans," the newspaper writes. According to the New York Times, "PEPFAR's budget is about $7 billion a year and was last increased by 2 percent, so it has warned its aid recipients to expect no increases for at least two years."

On the U.S. contributions to the Global Fund, the New York Times writes, "The United States donates one-third of the fund each year by matching the rest of the world's contributions at 50 cents on the dollar. But other nations have given so little that the Treasury has consistently paid out less than Congress authorized. The Obama administration's fiscal 2011 budget proposed a $50 million cut in the contribution."

The piece also details additional donor efforts, such as those made by UNITAID, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Clinton Foundation (McNeil [2], 5/9).

Another New York Times article focuses on the challenges scientists have faced in trying to develop an HIV vaccine and vaginal microbicides (McNeil [3], 5/9). An additional article explores the factors complicating efforts to prevent the spread of HIV in Uganda (McNeil [4], 5/9).

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This information was reprinted from kff.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery. © Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.




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