The United States of America and other major donors to HIV/AIDs programmes in Africa have reduced its funding for anti-retroviral drugs and research.
The priorities to funding innovation in global healthcare has hit an all-time low in the annual investment for HIV prevention, research and development as major donors have reduced their support.
A new report released at the 9th International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference on HIV Science in Paris showed a continuous decline in funding and its potential impact on HIV patients and death rates.
The Resource Tracking for HIV Prevention, Research and Development Working Group’s, RTWG 13th Annual Report noted that funding for HIV prevention and research decreased by another three per cent in 2016.
According to the report, funding for HIV prevention R&D fell by three per cent ($35 million) in 2016 from the previous year, falling to $1.17 billion.
“It had maintained a steady downward trend between 2012 and 2016, falling from US$1.31 billion to US$1.17 billion with an annual funding loss of US$40.5 million, US$10.3 million, US$10.4 million and US$2.8 million for the four years.
The report which had tracked global funding for HIV science since 2000 also revealed that the United States’ public sector and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donate about 88 cents of every dollar spent on HIV prevention R&D in 2016.
It added that the European public sector funding fell by $10 million from 2015 and at $59 million, accounted for just six per cent of all public sector investment, according to the 2016 research document.
The number of philanthropic donors fell sharply from a total of 27 in 2015 to just 12 in 2016.
Meanwhile, investments in HIV Science had witnessed a steady rise in 2000 appreciating from $392 million to $1.23 billion in 2007.
In his reaction to the report, the Executive Director, AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition, (AVAC), Mitchell Warren, called for a greater range of donors to ensure financing and to cushion the potential impact, if any of the major funders were to reduce their investments.
He said, “We need to not only vastly accelerate HIV treatment and existing prevention options, but also to sustain investment to keep HIV prevention and research on track to provide the new tools that will move the world closer to ending AIDS.”
The Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS, Luiz Loures, who commended increases in public sector funding from the Netherlands and Sweden, urged other European countries to increase investment in critical prevention tools to help end the epidemic.
Mr. Loures said, “The past year has seen a new HIV vaccine efficacy trial begin and another planned to begin later in 2017; a novel proof-of-concept trial of antibody-mediated prevention underway; a monthly vaginal ring with the antiretroviral drug dipivefrine proved effective and under review by the European Medicines Agency.
“We are at an incredibly exciting time in the field of HIV prevention research and development with more life-saving innovations, science and technology coming to the forefront than ever before. We cannot allow a lack of funding to set back progress. Invest now and we can end AIDS by 2030.”
The Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA, Sani Aliyu, had earlier called on the federal government to take over the full sponsorship of HIV treatment or risk losing about one million of its citizens to the disease.
According to him, at the moment, almost one million Nigerians are on HIV treatment with only about 60,000 of them being catered for by the federal government through the “Taraba and Abia project”.
He said about 700,000 HIV positive Nigerians were catered for by the U. S. government while 240,000 were being treated through funds donated by other global organizations.
“If our major donors decide to stop funding HIV/AIDs programme, almost a million Nigerians will come off the treatments,” Mr. Aliyu had warned.
“I can tell you as a physician that if those one million people are out of treatment, statistically most of them will be dead in the next five years.
“This is a national security issue. HIV treatment is now affordable and we as a country need to start taking ownership of the programme,” he said.
The 13th annual report on global HIV funding will set new agenda at the 9th edition of the International AIDS Society Conference taking place in Paris, France.