Global HIV meeting urges US to ‘stay engaged’ on AIDS funding

HIV-aidsPARIS: Organisers of an international HIV science conference on Sunday urged the US government, a major donor of AIDS research and treatment programmes, to “stay engaged” even as President Donald Trump has threatened cuts.

“The American people are a major funder in this and we need them to stay engaged,” International AIDS Society president Linda-Gail Bekker told journalists in Paris.

Failure to do so, she said, would “jeopardise” lives.

More than 6,000 scientists are gathered in the French capital until Wednesday to assess advances in AIDS science amid concerns over funds drying up.

Globally, government donor funding for HIV dropped last year to the lowest level since 2010 — from US$7.5 billion (6.4 billion euros) to US$7 billion, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a California-based health policy NGO.

The United States has for years been the biggest contributor to the global fight against HIV infection, accounting for about two-thirds of funding by governments.

Trump’s proposed budget, submitted in May, “reduces funding for several global health programmes, including HIV/AIDS, with the expectation that other donors can and should increase their commitments.”

“We’ve heard from the White House certainly suggestions of cuts that sound like they could seriously jeopardise the response to the epidemic,” said Bekker.

“This is a disastrous time to see not only flat-lining but actually a reduction in funds,” with ever more people in need of treatment.