Agence France-Presse Examines Tsunami Disaster's Possible Effect on HIV/AIDS Funding
January 10, 2005
HIV/AIDS fundraisers are having "mixed feelings" about the billions of dollars raised for relief efforts related to the Dec. 26 Indian Ocean tsunami that devastated several Asian countries, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. Although many fundraisers say "[t]heir joy is unbridled" when they see the money coming in for tsunami relief, they also "quietly hope generosity will not run dry when the begging bowl is also put out for AIDS," according to AFP/Yahoo! News. The need for HIV prevention is "bound to magnify in tsunami-ravaged areas" because people who are displaced, impoverished or traumatized can be more susceptible to HIV through rape, child trafficking and commercial sex work, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. Local governments also might "tighten the belt" on funding for HIV/AIDS programs because budgets will be "strained" by tsunami relief efforts, Suman Mehta, UNAIDS associate director for the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions, said, according to AFP/Yahoo! News. However, some advocates are "guardedly optimistic," believing the "big upturn" in funding and political commitment to fight HIV/AIDS, which began in 2003, will remain "untouched," AFP/Yahoo! News reports. "We are not worried so much about funding going away from HIV/AIDS," Mehta said, adding, "Funds are very much needed at a time of calamity" (AFP/Yahoo! News, 1/8).
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