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Funding, Not Technology, Hampering Programs to End AIDS Epidemic by 2030

DEC 20, 2016 | EINAV KEET
The meeting reiterated a report on the investments needed for Fast-Track, which included new estimates on the funding needed to reach the 2020 and 2030 targets. The initiative emphasizes the need for front-loading investment, which calls for “a rapid increase in resources allocated to HIV during the next few years to achieve greater long-term gains and reduce the resources needed in the future.” Based on the fact that such programs in low- and middle-income countries worldwide needed $19.2 billion in funding in 2014, the report estimates that “investment from all sources will need to increase,” meaning that $26.2 billion will be needed by 2020. According to the report, most people who are living with HIV will have been diagnosed after 2020, and due to this (as well as other factors), less HIV resources will be needed, which means costs should steadily decline to $22.3 billion by 2030. Without investing in this scale-up, the HIV/AIDS epidemic will be prolonged and could rebound in many countries and undo the progress that has been made by public health efforts.

Calls to invigorate stagnating funding for the HIV/AIDS epidemic have also come from officials at the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), an initiative designed to assist in the worldwide fight against AIDS. Since 2003, PEPFAR has been successful in 31 countries using a $6.8 billion annual budget by making strategic and geographic investments to implement evidence-based programs in the most at-risk populations. It shares the goals of UNAIDS in achieving an “AIDS-free generation” but at a recent National Institutes of Health event, program coordinator Deborah Birx, MD, echoed the need for a boost in funding to put towards HIV/AIDS efforts, along with a more targeted approach with available resources. “Funding has plateaued and the real challenge is how do we apply the tools that have been given to us through the scientific method and how do we do that in a budget-neutral environment,” said Dr. Birx at the event. She noted PEPFAR’s targets in sub-Saharan Africa for 2017, including extending antiretroviral therapy, encouraging more male circumcisions, and reducing new infections in women. “Now we need really a call to action to ensure that we move these policies into a new place so we can bring the end of AIDS, together, in the next five or 10 years."
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