Time Running Out For G8's AIDS, HIV Treatment Commitment

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Additional evidence of the exciting potential of HIV treatment as prevention increases need to front-load funding, but the time is running out for the G8's commitment to make the universal access to HIV and AIDS treatment available by 2010.

With 2010 fast approaching, the Group of 8 (G8) countries must act quickly to fulfill their financial commitments to universal access to HIV prevention, treatment care and support, according to the International AIDS Society (IAS), the world’s leading independent association of HIV professionals.

The IAS recognizes that the current global financial crisis puts pressure on government spending, and appreciates that the Group of 20 (G20), which includes the G8, have recently reaffirmed the importance of development assistance commitments previously made. “The significant progress to date in providing HIV treatment, care and prevention wouldn’t have happened without donor funds,” said Professor Julio Montaner, IAS President and Director of the BC Centre for Excellence on HIV/AIDS. “Continued funding is essential to ensure we maintain the gains to date and achieve the ultimate goal of universal access.” Read: The Benefits Of Early HIV Treatment and Testing.

Since their Gleneagles meeting in 2005, G8 countries have repeatedly stated their commitment to universal access by 2010. Based on the G8’s own reporting at its July 2008 meeting in Hokkaido, Japan the IAS has calculated that G8 countries have, to date, pledged approximately US$ 22.2 billion specifically for global HIV programmes between 2008 and 2010. This amount is just 36% of the UNAIDS-estimated US$ 61 billion that is needed over this period.

The IAS supports the assessment made by UNAIDS that, in order to finance a strong HIV response in low- and middle-income countries, international donors -- in particular, high-income countries -- will need to mobilize approximately two-thirds of the total resources needed in the future. Based on historical funding patterns indicating that the G8 has covered about 80% of high-income countries’ contributions to global AIDS spending, the IAS urges the G8 to contribute at least US$ 32.5 billion between 2008 and 2010. << More About AIDS and HIV >>

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“The HIV funding gap is contributing to the infection of an estimated 6,800 people and the death of around 5,500 people from AIDS-related illness every day,” said Professor Montaner. “Given all the technical hurdles to jump in the race to universal access, funding should be the easiest one. With the beginning of 2010 just one year away, the G8 must show true leadership and quickly pay its share.”

Mounting scientific evidence is demonstrating the value of quickly frontloading funds to halt and reverse the spread of HIV. A recent modeling study by Granich et al. published 26 November in The Lancet demonstrates that nationwide annual HIV testing in South Africa, followed by immediate antiretroviral therapy for those who are HIV-positive and the continuation of proven prevention approaches, could virtually eliminate HIV transmission within a decade.

“This treatment approach buys two health outcomes with one product – the prevention of millions of new infections while maintaining a healthy quality of life for the millions currently living with HIV infection,” said Professor Montaner, who himself has published a number of analyses modeling the potential preventive impact of universal treatment coverage.

“The moral case for universal access has been clear for some time, however, the financial case for treatment as prevention is now equally clear,” stated Professor Montaner. “More funds may be required today, but this will achieve enormous savings in the near future. The end of the HIV pandemic is within our grasp. There is no time to waste. ”

The IAS is the world’s leading association of HIV professionals, with more than 11,000 members working at all levels of the global response to HIV/AIDS. IAS members represent scientists, clinicians, public health and community practitioners on the frontlines of the epidemic in 183 countries worldwide. IAS is the custodian of the biennial International AIDS Conference and the host of the IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, which will be held in Cape Town, South Africa in July 2009.

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