The aftermath of World AIDS Day 2010 represents a critical milestone in international governments’ responses towards the on-going global HIV epidemic, says the UK-based churches' international development agency Christian Aid.
Although December 2010 marks the G8 deadline set at the 2005 Millennium Summit to provide universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support for the 33.3 million people living with HIV worldwide, there are still approximately 10 million who desperately need immediate treatment but are unable to access it.
"In this financial climate, it is tempting for governments to reduce their spending on international development and focus their energies at home, so the UK government has been brave in maintaining its commitment to spend 0.7 per cent GNP on development," comments Nina O’Farrell, Christian Aid’s Head of HIV.
"However, despite significant progress in expanding access to HIV treatment – more than five million people in low- and middle-income countries now receive life-saving antiretroviral (ARV) therapy compared to just 500,000 in 2003 – new infections continue to out-pace those receiving treatment by two to one worldwide," she says.
"This demonstrates that we cannot be complacent and must maintain a strong focus on HIV prevention, yet it is unclear how much money will now be channelled towards diseases of poverty such as HIV," O’Farrell continues.
"The Department for International Development (DFID) in the UK is preparing a much needed malaria business plan, but where is its plan for HIV? Now is the time to beef up our response to HIV, not cut back. There is a very real danger that we could lose significant gains if funding for HIV is not maintained, or indeed scaled-up," declares the Christian Aid spokesperson.
The churches' development agency is maintaining its call on donor governments to keep their commitments to the fight against HIV.
Along with other British civil society organisations, it is asking for the UK to commit firmly its fair share of £840 million to Global Fund for 2011-13.