Global AIDS Fund Crisis

An article in the November 30,2011 Mississippi Clarion Ledger cites our Center’s research in an examination of the Global AIDS Fund:

“Back when Joyce Kamwana was diagnosed with HIV, it was considered “equal to death,” she said.

More than 20 years later, Kamwana, an HIV survivor with two children, is on a mission to ensure the virus that leads to AIDS does not became a death sentence for others as nations lose their will to help them.

“This is a matter of life and death,” said Kamwana, 48, a native of the African country of Malawi.

Kamwana delivered that message in Jackson on Wednesday, the eve of World AIDS Day, as an ambassador for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, an initiative that has committed $22.4 billion in 150 countries to support prevention, treatment and care programs against the three diseases.

Across the globe, more than 33 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, and 2.5 million are infected each year, the World Health Organization says.

In the United States, HIV treatment regimens can cost up to $24,000 per year per patient, reports the journal, Clinical Infectious Diseases.

But several countries, Including the United States, are threatening to slash monetary commitments to such initiatives as their governments fight economic emergencies at home.

“Since 2003, 7.7 million lives have been saved by the Global Fund,” said Crickett Nicovich, a Starkville native who’s the outreach and advocacy associate with RESULTS, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit agency that helped sponsor Kamwana’s visit here.

“But because many countries aren’t living up to their pledges to it, the Global Fund is in a financial crisis itself.

“For the first time in a decade, global AIDS spending fell in 2010, and President Obama and the 112th Congress have presided over the first decrease in U.S. global AIDS spending.”

The U.S. House of Representatives has proposed overall cuts to global health funding that would hamper efforts to fight AIDS and other diseases, Nicovich said.

Reductions to anti-AIDS initiatives should resonate here, said Linda Rigsby, an attorney with the Mississippi Center for Justice.

“Mississippi is one of nine Southern states identified as being particularly hard-hit by AIDS,” she said, citing a report from the Duke Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research, “HIV/AIDS Epidemic in the South Reaches Crisis Proportions in Last Decade.”

Read the full article.

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