Like a candle in the wind, support for HIV responses risks burning out long before the epidemic ever will . . .
On one hand, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, one of the top 20 philanthropic funders of HIV responses is still going strong, with more than $17 million in disbursements last year and a new partnership with the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief this year to expand services for men who have sex with men in southern Africa. On the other hand, The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, a large funder of HIV responses (among them the community-based PASADA program in Tanzania, which we visited in October) since the late 1990s, closed at the end of last year. The closing of that charitable entity, and of the AIDS-research and public-health-supporting Irene Diamond Fund are cited in the just-released review of Philanthropic Support to Address HIV/AIDS in 2013 from Funders Concerned about AIDS as two of the factors contributing to a $44 million, or eight percent, drop in private funding for HIV responses from 2012.
That means last year saw the lowest level of funding from charitable donors since 2007, the year when government spending on HIV began to drop. While the report notes that philanthropic support accounted for just three percent of all international funding for HIV-related efforts in low and middle-income countries, it has increasingly been cited in recent years as a source of support to fill gaps left by constricting national budgets at a time when greater than ever access to HIV treatment, and HIV/TB coordinated efforts have been identified as critical to long term sustainability of global health responses. The report came as global health advocates anxiously awaited word of a Congressional spending bill that will set limits on U.S. HIV response donor dollars for the next year,
Spending on HIV from some of the top 20 donors actually rose in 2012, the report shows. Those include the M•A•C AIDS Fund, which is supported in part by sales of Viva Glam lipstick and which, with contributions of $38,956,518, is second only to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for HIV spending. While BMGF, with $200 million disbursed for HIV responses in 2013, donated more than a third of all private funding for HIV last year, that amount is $11 million less than the year before.
Overall, the report, which has been updated each of the last 12 years, found that large funders across the U.S. showed diminished interest in HIV, with just 64 cents of every $100 donated by U.S. charities directed to HIV responses. The report notes that seems unlikely to increase, perhaps one of the reasons M·A·C AIDS funded the making of a film of three young people, in the U.S., in India, and in South Africa, living with HIV today, entitled It’s Not Over .