Fighting AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa may be seriously threatened

During the African Conference on AIDS, MSF called for more funding to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

The international humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) warns that efforts to control the spread of HIV in sub-Saharan part of the continent are seriously threatened by the crisis of funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The crisis comes at a time in the fight against the disease, as recent scientific evidence proved that HIV treatment not only saves lives but also drastically reduces the transmission of the virus from one person to another.

The African continent has the highest HIV prevalence in the world, and the social and economic impacts of the disease are enormous. During the International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (Icasa, its acronym in English) at the end of last week, scientists, health professionals and policymakers on the continent had a balance of the pandemic in Africa.

Recent medical advances in the fight against HIV, and progress with the promise of expanding treatment to half of all people who need to show us that we are on track. But none of this is meaningless if there is sufficient funding to achieve the political promises made so far. Governments should ensure resources to increase the supply of treatment, not only to save lives, but also to reduce transmission of the virus, said MSF's medical director, Leslie Shanks.

Last week, the committee of the Global Fund announced the decision to cancel the next round of funding due to lack of resources, saying that no possibility to finance new programs will be possible until 2014. The Fund's contingency plan, the Transitional Funding Mechanism, does not include new patients who need treatment for HIV or drug-resistant TB. The announcement came after two consecutive years of reduced funding for global HIV / AIDS, which was seriously threatening the continued provision of treatment - and plans to expand the supply - essential for hundreds of thousands of people living with HIV.

MSF is calling on the committee of the Global Fund to provide new funding opportunities and bringing together donors, as an emergency until the end of the first half of 2012, before the International AIDS Conference in July 2012, in Washington (USA) .

In 2011, important political commitments were made: that all governments gathered at the UN Summit on AIDS in June, pledged to expand the provision of HIV treatment for 15 million people by 2015, and U.S. government announced at the International AIDS Day (December 1) that would provide treatment to over 2 million people in the next two years. These were essential steps for all the fairly grim for the programs of HIV / AIDS in the world, but, according to MSF, these commitments need to be assured the resources to be realized, ie, the Global Fund to be financed . The governments most affected by the cuts need to strengthen action to avoid gaps in the provision of treatment to help expand access to treatment and to reverse the epidemic.

We are witnessing the impact of the funding crisis in countries where we work. Some countries have had to limit the number of new patients could receive treatment, while others had to postpone the implementation of better treatment protocols. There are still countries that were forced to put on hold treatment strategies, which may have a very serious impact on the epidemic, reported Leslie.

In the Icasa conference, presented MSF field research and documents that show in numbers, the effects of cuts in funding in African countries over the past two years. Other presentations showed significant progress in the research field related to opportunistic infections that can worsen the condition of people living with HIV / AIDS, such as kala azar (visceral leishmaniasis) and meningitis. These diseases also will be impacted by the lack of funding.

Source: MSF