Developed Nations Receive Poor Grades on Report Card Assessing Response to HIV/AIDS
Although wealthy countries might be better equipped to provide antiretroviral treatment to HIV-positive people than some developing nations, wealthy nations often are less effective at collecting the data necessary to understand and curb HIV/AIDS, according to a study released last week by AIDS Accountability International, the Financial Times reports. In this first attempt to assess countries' compliance with commitments they made at the United Nations in 2001 and 2006 to ramp up their response to HIV/AIDS, the score card highlights that many high-income nations -- including most European countries and the U.S. -- are "worse at monitoring and/or reporting on the fundamentals of their epidemics and their responses" than their low-income counterparts. In addition, AAI found that although developed countries insisted on monitoring and reporting when they provided funding for antiretroviral treatment in the developing world, they failed to meet the same standards at home (Jack, Financial Times, 11/25).
The U.S., along with countries such as North Korea and Saudi Arabia, received an "E" on the score card, which is one step above the lowest grade possible, Bloomberg reports. AAI said the main reason for the score was the lack of information provided to UNAIDS. According to Bloomberg, the absence of data from the U.S. and other developed countries -- including Denmark, Ireland and Italy -- makes it difficult to determine which governments are having success against the disease and why others are not. Per Strand, AAI's scientific director, said, "Reporting may be poor for a number of reasons, and there may be, if I may say, a certain amount of arrogance from rich countries." Strand added, "It is clear that in some cases the reporting does not reflect the response." Officials from HHS did not immediately return calls for comment, Bloomberg reports.
According to Bloomberg, countries including Mexico and Tajikistan received "A" grades from AAI, indicating they reported on measures such as financial resources allocated to HIV prevention and treatment; engagement of nongovernmental organizations; human rights protections for people affected by HIV/AIDS; and coordination of efforts (Lauerman, Bloomberg, 11/25).
According to the Times, AAI said that the current data made available are inadequate to assess international progress, and it called for auditing to ensure that data provided by national governments on their HIV/AIDS policies are independently validated. AAI also said that the existing 25 indicators recommended by the United Nations are "necessary but insufficient" because they fail to monitor issues such as the quality of implementation of policy. This creates "major obstacles to holding governments accountable," according to the report (Financial Times, 11/25).