The US decision to freeze spending on HIV programs in several African countries has caused concern that some of the progress made in the global AIDS epidemic will be reversed.1
From 2003 to 2008, for example, Uganda received $929 million dollars under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which focused on treating patients in urgent need of medicine. When reviewing the program, the Obama administration noted that although PEPFAR expanded access to antiretroviral therapy, the number of new HIV infections rose. Therefore, the new administration wants to shift the program away from emergency treatment and focus on HIV prevention. What this means is that clinics will continue to be able to provide free medication to existing patients but should no longer accept new patients.
Lynne McDermott, the Kampala-based PEPFAR communications officer at USAID (United States Agency for International Development), said that the United States cannot continue treating an ever-increasing number of patients and that unless the number of new infections is reduced, Ugandans will always be faced with drug shortages. PEPFAR continues to provide two-thirds of all HIV money in Uganda, according to McDermott, who has urged Uganda “to identify other resources to fill the remaining gap.” However, Uganda says there are no other resources available in Uganda or anywhere in Africa.
1. Simon B. Freeze on HIV spending sparks concern in Africa. American Foreign Press. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iCN0IeVb30vy1lG44Upc3.... Published February 8, 2010. Accessed February 16, 2010.