Global Fund Discontinues Funding for South Africa’s loveLife Program; loveLife Responds
The Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has decided not to continue funding loveLife, South Africa's national HIV prevention program for youth, the Mail & Guardian reports (Chibba, Mail & Guardian, 12/21). The Global Fund -- which over the past two years accounted for about 30% of loveLife's budget -- was considering a further three-year, $43 million grant for the program (loveLife release, 12/21). loveLife -- which began in 1999 and is organized under the auspices of the independent loveLife Trust governed by leading South Africans -- aims to reduce the number of HIV infections among young South Africans through youth-friendly HIV/AIDS services in government clinics, outreach programs in schools and through a national network of community-based organizations, combined with a high-profile HIV education and awareness campaign. The program's other major funders include the South African government and the Kaiser Family Foundation. loveLife also receives major South African corporate sector support (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/26). In London's Times, former South African President Nelson Mandela in September wrote, "[I]n South Africa, where our young people have one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world, there are promising signs that the largest of our HIV prevention efforts -- loveLife -- is paying off," adding, "More than 85% of South Africa's youth report that they are aware of loveLife, and one-third have participated in at least one loveLife program. Most hopeful, though, according to a new, large-scale study published in [September], young people who participated in loveLife programs were 'significantly less likely to be HIV infected'" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/27).
The Global Fund said loveLife was "deemed to not have sufficiently addressed weaknesses in its implementation which originally led the Global Fund Secretariat to recommend no continued funding after two years" (Global Fund release, 12/16). In a statement, loveLife said, "The loveLife Trust is dismayed and disappointed that the Global Fund Board would reject the recommendation of its own panel of world-renowned HIV prevention experts, which was asked to review the loveLife proposal precisely so that the decision in this long disputed matter would be made only on the basis of independent expert judgment." The statement quotes a report from the Global Fund's Technical Review Panel, which said, "Overall, the pressing need for interventions aiming at reducing the impact of HIV among young people in South Africa combined with the appropriateness of the revised strategy in this proposal convinced the TRP to recommend to the (Global Fund) board that this proposal be funded." The TRP report adds that "loveLife has responded to the weaknesses identified during Phase 1 of the round one grant," and that the "[p]rogrammatic approach is in line with international best practice for limiting HIV incidence among adolescents" (loveLife release, 12/21).