Global Funding ‘Vital’ For Preventing Millions of AIDS-Related Deaths, Piot Says
Millions of HIV-positive people in the world's poorest countries, particularly in Africa and Asia, will die if donors worldwide downsize funding because of the global financial crisis, UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said on Wednesday, Reuters reports. "If we interrupt (funding) even for six months or a year, it will result in millions of deaths," Piot said, adding, "If we interrupt these activities, we will have to pay later as more people will become infected." Experts and major donors supporting global HIV/AIDS initiatives have warned that amid the current global financial difficulty, rich countries might cut back on their aid to developing countries. According to Piot, this funding is "absolutely vital for the survival of millions of people in the poorest countries" (Majumdar, Reuters, 11/12).
In related news, Piot on Thursday said that India must address the recent increase in injection drug users in the country to help prevent the spread of HIV, Reuters reports. "If we don't prevent new infections in new emerging populations like [IDUs], it can go up as bushfires," Piot said, adding, "We may see a major surge in infections." He also said he is concerned about the spread of drugs in the country. "Drug use is moving a bit everywhere, we can see it in Bihar (Uttar Pradesh) and in Kashmir, it is kind of moving across the northern part of the country," Piot said. He added, "I was really shocked to hear what was going on."
About 200,000 IDUs are reported in India, with many IDUs living in remote areas of the northeast region. According to Reuters, official figures show that more than 10% of India's IDUs are HIV-positive (Majumdar, Reuters, 11/13).