Delivery of Global AIDS Funding Drops 10 Percent

BY Talea Miller  August 17, 2011 at 2:30 PM EDT

HIV testing in Haiti. Photo by UNICEF.

There’s been a slowdown in HIV/AIDS donations from rich countries to developing nations, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation and UNAIDS.

An analysis released this week found that donors disbursed $6.9 billion last year for HIV prevention and treatment funding, down from $7.6 billion in 2009. The bulk of the decrease is attributed to a slow down in U.S. funding distribution — but not an actual budget cut.

The United States appropriated $5.5 billion for international AIDS relief in 2010, which was in line with the 2009 disbursement, but new logistical requirements under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief slowed the pace, and $3.7 billion was actually distributed. The United States is the largest international donor, accounting for 54 percent of total funding in 2010.

“With U.S. funding delayed but not eliminated to this point, this year’s drop in spending may be a temporary blip, though its impact on services may be real,” Drew Altman, Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO said in a statement.

Seven of 15 governments included in the analysis had a decrease in funding distributions in 2010, including Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden. U.S. Currency exchange fluctuations were also a factor in some of the decreases.

Nandini Oomman, director of the HIV/AIDS Monitor, which tracks effectiveness of AIDS funding at the Center for Global Development, said it’s possible international contributions to the epidemic in the developing world may have seen their peak. But the current levels of commitment are still very high, she said.

“It is still a lot of money. You always need more money and resources for programming but the issue going forward is we need to spend the money we have more effectively,” Oomman said.

She warned that the biggest funding challenge could be the climate in Washington and the threat of looming government budget cuts.

“We don’t have the same support in Congress that we did when PEPFAR was authorized and reauthorized,” Oomman said. “I don’t think the U.S. is going to renege from a commitment it’s made to keep people alive, but it’s under a lot more pressure to demonstrate how they are making this happen.”

The UNAIDS/Kaiser analysis found that the U.S. ranks seventh in AIDS funding as a share of GDP, with Denmark ranking first, followed by the Netherlands, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Norway.