Robyn Dixon – REPORTING FROM JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — Activists marked World Aids Day on Thursday with warnings that severe shortfalls in global AIDS funding by donors would cost many lives, particularly in hard-hit southern Africa.
After scientific research this year concluded that aggressive treatment of HIV from an early stage with anti-retroviral medications could save lives, the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced last week it was canceling funding for new programs until 2014 because it had not received adequate donations.
The organization is the biggest fund offering grants to fight the diseases and provides anti-retroviral medication for about half the people in sub-Saharan Africa taking the drugs. Globally it is providing such medications for 3.2 million people.
The global financial crisis and the uncertainty created by the Eurozone meltdown are major causes of the shortfall in donations, according to analysts. Corruption in some agencies that received Global Fund grants was another issue, leading the fund to tighten its accountability procedures.
Nathan Geffen of South Africa’s Treatment Action Campaign said the Global Fund was supporting millions of people living with AIDS in Africa.
“If funding is cut and no further grants are dispersed, the consensus is that many people in need of ARV [anti-retroviral drugs] for HIV, or medications for malaria or TB, are not going to get them,” Geffen said. “The scale of the problem can be measured in deaths. It’s as stark and tragic as that.” READ MORE