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“A sense of panic”: Concern about funding dominates global AIDS summit

Stanford's Eran Bendavid, MD, is among the 18,000 people gathered this week in South Africa for the 21st International AIDS Conference. And he, like many others, is concerned about the decline in international funding to fight the infectious disease.

For the first time in recent years, donor government funding to support HIV efforts in low or middle income countries dropped last year, according to a recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. It fell from $8.6 billion in 2014 to $7.5 billion in 2016, marking a worrisome trend.

“That’s on everybody’s mind now — how to continue facing the epidemic with the shrinking resources,” Bendavid, an assistant professor of medicine, said in a recent Stanford Health Policy article. He continues:

There’s a sense of panic about how we’re going to fill the shortfall in funding. All the major donors are here, PEPFAR [the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Release], the Global Fund, and everyone is saying `We need more to continue the fight.’

But, in my mind, the conversation that is mostly missing is the one between the organizations on the front lines and the national ministries of health and finance. See what they can do to get domestic resources to fill the gap.

Huge needs remain: More than half of the 36.7 million people with HIV/AIDS still lack access to effective therapies. And the United Nations has announced an ambitious goal — an end to the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Here's Bendavid:

The resource constraints are forcing us to think carefully about what to invest in, and we want to invest in what works...

Exactly how to do that is just one topic attendees are tackling; the conference wraps up tomorrow.

Previously: Study shows that promoting abstinence, fidelity for HIV prevention is ineffective, Health aid may be allocated efficiently, but not always optimally and Should we invest in HIV prevention for people who inject drugs?
Photo courtesy of International AIDS Society

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