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Global AIDS fund won't add programs

Nov. 24, 2011 at 4:58 PM   |   Comments

GENEVA, Switzerland, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Geneva, Switzerland, says it will fund only existing programs for the next two years.

Major donor countries included Italy and Spain, both hit hard by the European debt crisis, officials said Wednesday, The Washington Post reported. Italy has not yet fulfilled its pledges for 2009 and 2010, while Spain cut its pledge by $66 million to $134 million in 2010 and made no pledges after that.

The fund, which raises the bulk of the money spent internationally on all three diseases, has also had internal problems, The New York Times reported. Germany and Sweden have declined to make larger pledges because of questions about the fund's oversight of its grants.

In October 2010, the last pledge round brought in raised $11.7 billion, while officials had set a goal of $20 billion. The fund said an "austerity budget" keeping existing programs going would require at least $13 billion.

Experts say the next few years could be crucial in the effort to get AIDS under better control. About 6.6 million of the 14.2 million AIDS patients who might qualify for subsidized antiretroviral drugs are currently getting treated, 3.2 million with help from the Global Fund and most of the rest from the U.S. program set up by President George W. Bush.

Scientists have discovered HIV-positive people being treated with antiretrovirals are far less likely to transmit the virus.

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