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New ONE report sounds the alarm about government complacency in global fight against HIV/AIDS

LONDON – In a new report published on World AIDS Day, the ONE Campaign warned of a growing complacency in the global fight against HIV/AIDS and sounded the alarm over an estimated £8 billion ($12 billion) annual shortfall in what’s needed to finally stop the epidemic. Current global spending on HIV/AIDS was estimated at £12 billion ($20 billion) in 2014 and needs to reach £21 billion ($32 billion) by 2020 in order to change the trajectory of the deadly disease.

Diane Sheard, UK Director of ONE, said: “The progress we’ve made against HIV/AIDS is so powerful that it’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of security about the size of the fight in front of us. The world is still nearly £8 billion short each year of what it will take to end this disease, and those missing pounds, dollars and naira won’t grow on trees. With the trajectory of the epidemic and millions of lives at stake, need governments, companies, and philanthropists to step up and provide the resources needed to stop AIDS in its tracks. On this year’s World AIDS Day, it’s time to think differently about the way we finance the fight against HIV/AIDS.”

Among the top lines of the 2015 ONE AIDS Report:

  • We’re starting to see a dangerous level of complacency in the global fight against HIV/AIDS, and it could undo the real progress made in recent years. The plateauing of many donor governments’ spending puts a premium on increased domestic spending by countries with high HIV rates, on finding new sources of money, and on more effective spending of existing resources.
  • The next five years will be a unique window in the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic. If we can aggressively scale-up investments and programmes over the next five years — closing the £8 billion ($12 billion) per year funding gap — we could prevent nearly 8 million new infections by 2020 and bend the curve of the disease towards zero new infections. Without this scaling up, , the epidemic will outpace response measures and, by 2030, could undo the progress we’ve made.
  • Although the leaders of 46 sub-Saharan African countries promised in 2001 to increase their domestic spending on health programmes to 15 per cent of their overall budgets, in the 14 years since, only six have followed through. If the other African governments were to spend just 1 per cent more on their health programs, and then spent only one-fifth of that increase on AIDS programmes, it would be enough to buy anti-retroviral drugs for more than 7 million more people.
  • Social and legal barriers for men who have sex with men and transgender persons in many countries increase their vulnerability to contracting HIV and make it less likely that they will seek the testing and treatment they need. These barriers will need to be addressed if the world is to turn the tide against the AIDS epidemic.
  • Some 74 per cent of adolescents in Africa who contract HIV are girls, making AIDS a leading cause of death for young women. Adolescent women and girls face unique social and economic pressures that increase their likelihood of becoming infected, yet they are often left behind in many of today’s AIDS programmes. Their needs must be addressed if we are going to stop the AIDS epidemic.
  • Whether world leaders step up to fully replenish the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria in 2016 will be the first real test of whether we’ll win this fight. Amid difficult budget environments and pressing global challenges, not only will the biggest donor governments need to increase their investments, but new and emerging global health donors will need to step forward.  The UK should pledge to up £1.2 billion for the Fund as well as mobilising private sector commitments.

Sheard added: “It’s one thing to give a speech calling for the end of AIDS in our lifetimes, but it’s another thing entirely to deliver the necessary funding to make the goal a reality.  The Government must play its part and pledge continued support of the Global Fund, which is being replenished next year, with an ambitious pledge of up to £1.2 billion.  It is also crucial to emphasise that it cannot just be the ‘business-as-usual’ path of donor governments doing the lifting: African governments can, and must, step up too. They owe it to their own citizens. This must be complemented by the private sector, whose innovation and involvement is essential. Millions of lives depend on whether or not the world steps up now.”