Report shows drop in HIV funding threatens gains in high burden, low income countries

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While steady increases in overall spending to prevent and treat HIV since 2000 have greatly diminished the impacts of the pandemic, high-burden and low income countries continue to rely largely on external funding for care, treatment and prevention programs that will be at risk if donor contributions continue to drop, a recent report from a global health research organization says.

The report, Financing for Global Health 2017, is the ninth in a series from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which analyzes trends in global spending and financing annually. The 2017 report examines the impacts of those trends on the attainment of universal health coverage, and on goals to end the global public health threat of HIV.

As countries move from dependence on external funding, understanding the impacts and interplay of country-level spending and external assistance on progress against HIV can inform strategies supporting other disease-specific efforts, as well as health system strengthening toward universal healthcare access, the report notes.

It highlights the access that increases in global HIV spending brought over the years from 2000, when just 2.5 percent of people living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral medicine, to 2005 when nearly 2 million people were dying annually as a result of the virus, but when transmissions began to drop, to 2015 when about 47.4 percent of people living with HIV were receiving the medicine that is now known to prevent transmission while protecting health. By 2015, deaths from HIV had dropped 47 percent from the toll in 2000.

But while country level spending has increased, and donor funding has declined consistently since 2013, external funding continues to make up the bulk of financing for HIV programs increasingly focused on treatment in the highest burden and lowest income countries, the report notes. Those efforts now, are vulnerable, the authors conclude, to further decreases in external funding.

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