Women, Girls Priority In U.S. Efforts Against Global HIV/AIDS, Clinton Tells International Health Experts

In a video address to international HIV/AIDS experts gathered in Namibia for the 2009 HIV/AIDS Implementers Meeting Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton emphasized the Obama administration’s commitment to women and girls in the fight against HIV/AIDS, the AP/Washington Post reports. Clinton “says her government will prioritize preventing mother-to-child transmission of the virus that causes AIDS, and work to ensure girls are not forced into prostitution or early marriages,” the newspaper writes (AP/Washington Post, 6/10).

New Era examines discussions at the meeting over how “an acute scarcity of financial resources is threatening to set back the commendable strides achieved in the global fight against HIV/AIDS pandemic within the next three to five years.” The Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s Director for the Africa Unit Fareed Abdullah said during a news briefing at the conference, “There is no[t] enough money on the table for antiretroviral (ARV) treatments. It is a massive conundrum. The funding gap would start to hit in the period going forward.”

The “Global Fund’s current estimate of the financial needs are at $4 billion between now and 2012 when it would need to fund the replenishment of ARV drugs,” the newspaper writes. If the funding needs are not met, countries in Eastern and Southern Africa “will be severely hit,” such as the case in Namibia, where there are signs of “financial gaps in the next five-year plan for the combating of HIV/AIDS.” About 22 percent of Namibia’s national health budget is provided by donors.

In order to prepare for the impact of the economic crisis on HIV/AIDS programs worldwide, “PEPFAR’s Assistant US Global AIDS Coordinator, Michele Moloney-Kitts, has asked countries receiving donor funding to step up to the challenge through cost savings and efficiency,” according to New Era. “We cannot afford to have duplications of efforts, we cannot have [ARV] drugs wasted,” says Moloney-Kitts.

Still, “Abdullah says it is not just for the donor world to stand aside and watch the situation [of] financial scarcity unfold,” the newspaper writes. “We cannot tell countries to stop enrolling HIV infected people. It is not an option to say we have no money,” Abdullah said.

New Era writes, “Besides funding HIV prevention programmes and ARV treatment, donor money is playing a big role in the supply of health workers in Africa, as the continent faces the migration of health workers to north Europe. (New Era, 6/11).

Former Boston Globe reporter, John Donnelly, is live blogging from the conference here for the Center for Global Health Policy. 

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