Future of AIDS Treatment in Developing World Remains Bleak

A protester holds up a poster in front of the board during the XVIII AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria. Concern about lack of funding for fighting HIV/AIDS was the focus of discussions during the recently concluded event. Photo by: Marcus Rose/IAS/Worker's Photos

The future is bleak for millions of people in developing countries who are receiving or urgently in need of antiretroviral treatment due to lack of donor support for treatment procedures and the delivery of necessary drugs.

This concern about lack of funds was front and center of discussions during the recently concluded 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria, according to the Washington Post.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, or UNAIDS, said in a report presented during the conference that USD23.6 billion was required to address the AIDS epidemic in developing countries in 2009 but only USD15.9 billion was made available by public and private donors. The Washington Post notes that donor support for AIDS treatment is not expected to increase much, if any, in 2010.

Criticisms of the U.S. stance on AIDS funding dominated the Vienna conference, the newspaper adds.

Several activists have slammed the Obama administration for reneging on its commitment to implement big annual increases in its global AIDS spending.

Paul Zeitz of the Global AIDS Alliance has lamented that the U.S. government and its funding partners “have decided to either flat-line or reduce their spending just when funding should be ramped up so we could actually win the battle.”

In defense of its decision to spend less money than it has previously pledged for AIDS programs, the U.S. emphasized the importance of prevention and addressing other diseases that may be related to HIV and AIDS.

“What it takes to save lives of those with HIV and those most at risk to contract it is a comprehensive approach that recognizes the roles of other diseases,” according to Gayle Smith, Obama’s special assistant for development and democracy.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.