Experts Fear Shrinking DOD Budget, Shifting AFRICOM Focus Could Threaten HIV Prevention Programs

A shrinking Department of Defense (DOD) budget and a shift in the focus of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to “more traditional military threats” to national security, such as “preventing terrorist safe havens on the continent,” could affect the department’s HIV prevention programs, Stars and Stripes reports. While officials say there currently is no intent to cut HIV prevention programming, “those initiatives will come under more scrutiny as AFRICOM operates in a tougher budget environment, according to command officials,” the news service writes.

“HIV/AIDS program managers seeking more funding should keep the still-emerging strategy in mind as they make their cases for program support,” Navy Capt. Edward Bradfield said on Monday at a five-day Africa Command-hosted conference on DOD HIV/AIDS prevention programs in Germany, Stars and Stripes writes.  While the new strategy will focus heavily on “[b]uilding the capacity of African militaries to conduct peacekeeping operations … Col. Robert Miller, AFRICOM command surgeon, said health care initiatives such as DOD’s HIV prevention program help counter regional instability,” the news service reports (Vandiver, 8/15).