Global AIDS spending must double by 2005, says gloomy UN

Graham McKerrow, HIV i-Base

Although most countries are increasing spending on combating HIV, the resources that have been earmarked so far are “woefully inadequate”, says the United Nations.

Spending is less than half the $10 billion needed by 2005, and less than a third of the sum required by 2007. The organisation says that doubling resources by 2005 is necessary to tackle the disaster engulfing nations like India, which has the worst epidemic after South Africa.

A meeting of 10 heads of state and government, as well as many ministers and NGO leaders, at the UN’s New York headquarters in September concluded that the crisis demanded “drastic action”. The meeting heard progress reports from Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, and the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS, which said the global and national efforts to fight HIV were failing to meet the UN’s own basic goals for prevention and care.

A special session of the UN General Assembly (UNGASS) two years ago set goals aimed at reversing the pattern of the pandemic by 2005. Mr Annan said it was “crystal clear” that on current trends none of the targets for 2005 would be met.

About 1 million people with AIDS receive antiretroviral treatment and the target is to treat three million by 2005 – the so-called three by five target – but to do so “we must change the way we think and change the way we act,” said Lee Jong-wook, director general of the World Health Organisation.

There are seven million positive people in the Asia-Pacific region and yet more than a third of countries in the region have yet to adopt policies to treat people. Sub-Saharan Africa is the focus of much global publicity about its HIV disaster and yet few countries even have the resources necessary to prevent mother to child transmission. Few countries have introduced anti-discrimination measures for people with, or at risk of contracting, HIV – measures regarded as essential to effective prevention and treatment.

The secretary general’s summary of the meeting concludes: “While acknowledging the formidable obstacles before us, the conclusions of the panel were not pessimistic. We are learning more and more every day about what works, resources are increasing and political leadership is gaining steam. But we must stay on course – and redouble our efforts – to remain true to the [UNGASS] Declaration of Commitment adopted in this room just two years ago.”

Link to United Nations statement:

Links to other websites are current at date of posting but not maintained.