HIV/AIDS Experts Considering Whether To Shift HIV/AIDS Funding to Basic Health Problems, AP/Google.com Reports
Some HIV/AIDS experts are considering whether it would be "wise" to shift some of the global funding for HIV/AIDS to basic health problems -- such as clean water, family planning or diarrhea -- facing developing countries, the AP/Google.com reports.
Global spending for HIV/AIDS totals $8 billion to $10 billion annually, more than 100 times the amount spent on water projects in developing countries, according to the AP/Google.com. In addition, more children in Africa die of malnutrition, pneumonia or malaria than HIV/AIDS, the AP/Google.com reports. More than two billion people worldwide do not have access to adequate sanitation, and about one billion do not have access to clean water. Although most of Africa has relatively low rates of HIV and higher rates of treatable diseases such as diarrhea and respiratory illnesses, most health-related funding from Western nations is earmarked for HIV/AIDS, the AP/Google.com reports.
Malcolm Potts, an HIV/AIDS expert at the University of California-Berkeley, said the global health community is "spending too much on AIDS." He added that people "react quickly to small children with AIDS in distress" but do not "have that same reaction when looking at statistics that tell us what we should be spending on."
Some HIV/AIDS experts have said reducing spending on HIV/AIDS programs would be dangerous, the AP/Google.com reports. Kevin DeCock, director of the HIV/AIDS programs for the World Health Organization, said the international community "cannot let the pendulum swing back to a time when we didn't spend a lot on AIDS," adding that "millions of people" are receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS and "we can't just stop that." Although HIV/AIDS advocacy includes celebrity ambassadors, no one is "beating the drum for basic health problems," according to Daniel Halperin, an HIV/AIDS researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health.
According to the AP/Google.com, many HIV/AIDS experts believe the solution is to increase spending for other public health problems rather than reduce spending on HIV/AIDS. "Why does the public health budget have to be so limited?" Tom Coates, a professor of global HIV/AIDS research at the University of California-Los Angeles, asked, adding, "Let's not drag AIDS care and prevention down to the level of every other disease, but let's bring everything else up to the level of AIDS." Richard Wamai, a Kenyan physician from HSPH, "It's hard to get Western donors to listen," adding that some health infrastructures in Africa are so weak that donations cannot be spent and antiretroviral drugs cannot be distributed (Cheng, AP/Google.com, 1/19).