AIDS funding gap puts lives at risk
16 July 2010
Caritas warns that a gap in funding for HIV programmes worldwide will set back the campaign on AIDS by 20 years.
The Caritas “HAART for Children” campaign is encouraging governments and pharmaceutical firms to improve testing and treatment for children with HIV and TB in poor countries.
An International AIDS conference will bring together health experts, scientists, governments, and activists from 18-23 July in Vienna.
Msgr. Robert Vitillo, Caritas Internationalis Special Representative on HIV and AIDS, will be a panelist at a session on ‘Universal Access’ at a Catholic networking “pre-conference” on 16 and 17 July and Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Lesley-Anne Knight will also attend.
The UN’s AIDS programme, UNAIDS, estimates that US$27 million is needed this year to tackle the pandemic, but optimistic estimates of the funds available leave a gap of more than a third. Costs will increase as more people become newly infected, especially if prevention and testing programmes are cutback too.
Msgr. Vitillo said people are already being turned away from treatment in countries he has visited such as Uganda because of a lack of funds.
“Neglecting HIV and AIDS will put millions of human lives at risk in poor countries,“ says Msgr. Vitillo. “If people don’t have access to treatment, we will return to the 1980s where there weren’t enough hospital beds and people were dying without receiving any care.”
The effects of these funding shifts have ranged from people being forced out of ongoing treatment programme to policies that block new patients from being enrolled in such medication programmes. Besides the cutbacks in funds for health services, support for counselling and help to orphans and vulnerable children could also be affected .
Caritas has been promoting universal access to treatment for people with HIV and AIDS as well as offering treatment and care.
The Caritas “HAART for Children” campaign is encouraging governments and pharmaceutical firms to improve testing and treatment for children with HIV and TB in poor countries. HAART stands for “Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy”, the combination of medicines that help prolong the lives of both children and adults living with HIV. Without access to such life-saving medications, up to one-half of children living with HIV die before their second birthday.
During the International AIDS Conference, as its latest action in the “HAART for Children” Campaign, Caritas will hand over 20,000 signatures to representative from the Austrian government.
According to Msgr. Vitillo, these signatures show the concern of the Austrian people for their sisters and brothers living with AIDS in developing countries.
For more information, please contact Michelle Hough on +39 06 69879721/+39 334 2344136 or email@example.com