As the Global Fund cancels its 11th funding round due to lack of resources, the International AIDS Society urges donors and governments to allow the Global Fund to continue its lifesaving HIV work

November 24, 2011

24 November 2011 (Geneva, Switzerland) - Due to the increasing difference between donor commitments and actual disbursements from donors into the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria, the Global Fund is currently facing a critical financial situation which threatens the lives of millions of people living with HIV or at risk of becoming infected. As a result of funding shortfalls, the Global Fund board yesterday decided to effectively cancel its 11th funding round - an unprecedented act in its ten year history.

The Global Fund is a unique and innovative financing instrument which attracts, manages and disburses resources to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The fund is the most effective mechanism through which to disburse large amounts of resources rapidly and is credited with saving millions of lives. A distinguishing feature of the Global Fund is its strict and transparent auditing system, and its openness when it uncovers corruption.

When the Global Fund was first created in 2002, only 40,000 people living with HIV in low and middle-income countries were receiving lifesaving anti-retroviral drugs. By December 2009, Global Fund-supported programmes were providing antiretroviral therapy to 2.5 million individuals in 104 low and middle-income countries, and the Global Fund Board had approved proposals totalling USD 19.2 billion and disbursed over USD 10 billion for HIV, TB and malaria control efforts to over 140 countries.

A revised resource forecast presented to the Global Fund Board last week showed that substantial budget challenges in some donor countries, compounded by low interest rates have significantly affected the resources available for new grant funding.

Despite steady commitments from donors and governments, the increased difference between donors' commitments and the actual funds they deliver means that the Global Fund will only be able to finance essential services for on-going programmes that come to their conclusion before 2014.

For HIV, this funding may continue to provide lifesaving anti-retroviral treatment (ART) for people already using the treatment, however it will not allow for an essential scale-up of HIV treatment. This means that people living with HIV who would be eligible for ART under new WHO guidelines will not receive treatment, and that the now proven method of using HIV treatment as a means of prevention cannot be implemented where it is needed most.

The International AIDS Society is therefore urging public and private donors to put in place urgent as well as medium- to long-term measures to increase and accelerate funding, and implementing country governments, especially those from middle-income countries, to increase funding for HIV.

"This financial blow to the Global Fund comes at the worst possible time in the HIV response," said IAS President Elly Katabira. "Just as UNAIDS is reporting that new cases of HIV are starting to decline, and as we are seeing that the effective and early treatment of people living with HIV can stop transmission to their partners, the financial support that we need to continue this progress and to turn scientific fact into action has been pulled out from underneath us."

According to Médecins Sans Frontiers (MSF), the devastating effects of the overall funding shortage are already becoming clear. Cameroon and Zimbabwe may soon no longer be able to support people already on treatment, and the Democratic Republic of Congo is capping the number of people able to start ART. In other countries, such as Mozambique, funding problems have prevented the country from providing earlier treatment and better drugs, per WHO-recommended guidelines.

"The Global Fund's remarkable and visionary leadership has helped change the course of the HIV epidemic to date," said IAS Executive Director Bertrand Audoin. "The Global Fund has proved to be a very efficient mechanism for providing HIV treatment to people in countries who need it most urgently and who otherwise would not receive it. Such a dramatic resource shortfall at this point is incredibly frustrating and could potentially undo years of progress."

International AIDS Society

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