UNAIDS: 2015 targets ‘feasible’ despite 30 percent resource gap

UNAIDS Director for Evidence, Strategy and Results Bernhard Schwartländer, Executive Director Michel Sidibé, and Director of Communications Annemarie Hou released a new report ahead of World AIDS Day. Photo by: Jean-Marc Ferré / United Nations

While there has been considerable progress toward achieving an AIDS-free generation, gains have been uneven. This is according to a new report released ahead of World AIDS Day.

The Joint U.N. Program on HIV/AIDS report consolidates results of two studies done earlier this year on HIV investments. As Devex has reported, domestic funding in low and middle-income countries surpassed international aid for the first time in 2011. During that year, homegrown spending on HIV treatment and prevention efforts reached $8.6 billion, up 11 percent from 2011. In contrast, donor financing remained at 2008 levels, at $8.2 billion.

Among low- and middle-income countries, South Africa made the highest domestic investment in HIV and AIDS: Last year, it spent $1.9 billion on treatment and prevention programs. The country’s “strategic leadership” on AIDS spending has encouraged other countries in the region to follow suit. Kenya and Togo have increased domestic spending on AIDS significantly by 2010. Zambia, meanwhile, increased AIDS funding 45 percent this year.

South Africa’s proactive approach did not stop at increased domestic funding, the report notes. The country scaled up HIV treatment 75 percent in the past two years. This enabled 1.7 million people to gain access to life-saving interventions and resulted in a 50,000 drop in new HIV infections in the same period.

On a larger scale, the report finds new HIV infections in 25 low and middle-income countries — more than half of which are in sub-Saharan Africa — dropped more than 50 percent between 2001 and 2011. About half of these reductions in new HIV infections have been among newborns.

But even as significant progress is seen in these countries, others saw increases in new HIV infections. Among them: Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

In addition, there remains a 30 percent gap in resources. Current HIV investments amount to $16.8 billion, but UNAIDS estimates low- and middle-income countries need at least $24 billion by 2015. The report also identifies other challenges, such as:

  • An estimated 6.8 million eligible people remain out of treatment’s reach.

  • About 17 million people are unaware of their HIV status.

  • Despite the sizable reduction, new infections remain high at 2.5 million in 2011.

  • Many countries are critically dependent on international assistance.

  • The cost of treatment is still too high.

Among the recommendations to address these challenges are:

  • Scale up voluntary male circumcision and promotion and distribution of condoms.

  • Strengthen commitment to bring evidence-informed responses to scale.

  • Provisions for HIV testing, counseling and medicines.

  • Strengthen national policies.

  • Enhance monitoring of programs.

  • Build local capacity to address priority health issues.

  • Engage communities in prevention campaigns.

On the same day the report was launched, UNAIDS announced its newest ambassador: Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

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    Adrienne Valdez

    Adrienne Valdez is a former staff writer for Devex, covering breaking international development news. Before joining Devex, Adrienne worked as a news correspondent for a public-sector modernization publication.