So warns Fareed Abdullah, director of the Africa Unit for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, at a press conference here kicking off the HIV/AIDS Implementers’ Meeting.
In unusually forceful language, Abdullah diverted from his prepared talking points to say that not only is there not enough money for AIDS treatment in the developing world, and that a new study showing the benefits of starting treatment much earlier will greatly increase the demand.
“Next year funding for AIDS treatment globally might even be lower than this year,” Abdullah said. “The single biggest issue facing the global AIDS movement now is there is not enough money on the table for ARV (antiretroviral) treatment in countries where the need is greatest.”
He added, “In a world where cash is short, we need to ask for more money for ARV treatment now. I know it’s a big ask, but we must ask.”
The Global Fund contributes 23 percent of all international HIV/AIDS spending. PEPFAR, the US government program, is the biggest funder at 55 percent.
Michelle Maloney-Kitts, the assistant US global AIDS coordinator, said at the press conference that the new study showing the benefits of initiating AIDS treatment when a patient has a 350 CD4 count or lower adds a major new issue for PEPFAR and other donors in the coming months and next few years.
“We are not naive,” she said. “We know this creates a huge new cohort of people eligible for ARV treatment. This will create a very substantial financing challenge.”
She said, though, that she and other leaders at PEPFAR would wait to make any recommendations on financing until the expected confirmation of Dr. Eric Goosby as the next US global AIDS coordinator.
“But this study does underscore the absolute importance for us to find cost savings in our programs,” she said. “We cannot allow any duplication of efforts with our partners.”