UK aid cuts will have ‘devastating impact’ on global fight against HIV, say MPs

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The “disastrous impact” of cutting government foreign aid on the global fight against HIV has been highlighted in a new parliamentary report, which highlights how international programs have been scrapped, research funding has been lost and millions of lives are in danger.

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As part of an investigation led by the All Party Parliamentary Group on HIV and AIDS, experts warn that the decision to cut Britain’s foreign aid budget from 0.7 per cent of national income to 0.5 per cent is “a difficult-to-decade decision”. can reverse the difficult. Won progress” that has been made in cutting transmission and death rates around the world.

The United Nations-set targets for reducing the annual number of new infections to less than 370,000 and AIDS-related deaths by 250,000 are also at risk as a result of UK spending cuts, say the authors of report good, shared Granthshala.

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APPG Vice President Baroness Elizabeth Barker warned that the global response to the virus is “rapid” amid a perfect storm of “political support, dwindling funding and the global shock of COVID-19”.

“There can’t be a worse time for the government to cut funding so much,” he said. “Our report highlights the devastating impact that cuts are already having and how it is threatening decades of progress. We must save lives and get the HIV response back on track.”

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The COVID pandemic has disrupted global efforts to manage HIV. Compared to the same period in 2019, HIV testing declined by 41 percent during the first lockdown in 2020 and referrals for diagnosis and treatment by 37 percent, according to data collected at 502 health facilities in 32 African and Asian countries. There was a decline.

Despite concerns that this disruption risks “setting the stage for a resurgence in HIV”, as the APPG report warned, the UK government in July broadened its foreign aid budget to reduce its HIV investment. carried forward as part of a £4 billion cut.

APPG said money previously available to charity groups, campaigners, research projects and multilateral aid programs has all been lost, threatening the lives of millions of HIV-positive people and vulnerable individuals. be at risk.

“As we have clearly learned from COVID-19, the pandemic does not respect borders,” said Baroness Barker. “If we cannot control HIV globally, it will jeopardize our domestic efforts.”

UNAIDS, UNFPA and Unitaid – some of the largest multilateral organizations leading the global fight against HIV – have lost more than 80 per cent of their funding from the UK.

UNAIDS said the cuts would affect its ability to provide HIV prevention and treatment services around the world. APPG said the UK is the only member of its committee board to have reduced funding.

Unitaid said the cuts would “reduce available resources … to provide end-to-end game-changing solutions addressing the many challenges facing global health,” and highlighted that TB diagnosis How will the reform proposals be affected?

“This project is particularly important for the HIV response because TB is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV,” APPG said. StopAids and frontline aids.

Other HIV organizations have also been affected by funding cuts. Voluntary Service Migrants (VSOs) have been forced to end or reduce 45 percent of their programs, limiting access to healthcare to four million people, including those with HIV.

The charity has had to pull out of health work in Sierra Leone and Mozambique, and even in countries where it continues to operate, cuts in UK funding mean that the VSO now has the same scope of service. cannot offer.

Similarly, the APPG report noted that a Frontline AIDS project, which focused on HIV and sexual health in marginalized and under-served populations, was shelved in April as a result of funding cuts.

Another program led by the charity on Protection Against Sexual Exploitation for LGBTQI+ communities that suffer from high rates of HIV infection has also been scrapped. The FCDO-funded initiative did not continue beyond its initial six-month phase, cut into smaller work, aimed at addressing, reporting and demanding justice against sexual violence by these groups.

The report also focuses on reduction in R&D expenditure. In particular, it highlights how there has been no government investment in HIV vaccine development since 2017, and warns that “the decision to cut the aid budget will effectively reduce funding over the next few years.” closes the door to any potential increase in the incidence of cancer, even if clinical trials produce promising results.”

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Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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