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Economic Crisis Already Crippling Global HIV/AIDS Treatment, Prevention Programs, UNAIDS, World Bank Report Says

Global HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs are already feeling the effects of the global economic crisis, according to a report (pdf) released Monday by UNAIDS and the World Bank, AFP/ reports (7/6).

“Using data collected in March 2009 from 71 countries, the analysis looks at how the crisis could affect the nearly 4 million people living with HIV on treatment, and the 7 million who need treatment but don’t have access to it, and proposes some appropriate responses,” according to a UNAIDS release. The countries surveyed represent a total of 3.4 million people on antiretroviral treatment. The survey found eight countries reporting that the global crisis is already affecting antiretroviral treatment programs and 31 percent anticipated the economic climate would affect treatment programs this year (7/6).

The report also found “in 34 countries, respondents said there is already an impact on prevention programmes,” according to AFP/ (7/6).

“The report notes that an important lesson learned during previous crises is that cuts in core social development spending have long-term negative effects. Responding to fiscal pressures by reducing spending on HIV will reverse recent gains and require high-cost offsetting measures over the longer term,” the UNAIDS release writes (7/6).

“This is a wake-up call which shows that many of our gains in HIV prevention and treatment could unravel because of the impact of the economic crisis,” said Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS. “Any interruption or slowing down in funding would be a disaster for the four million people on treatment and the millions more currently being reached by HIV prevention programmes” (AFP/, 7/6).

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