Today, the 8th of May of 2012, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance has launched a new report referring to HIV, drug use and harm reduction programmes in relation to the Global Fund, the biggest funder of harm reduction and drug use programmes globally.
More precisely, the report ‘HIV, drug use and the Global Fund: Don’t Stop Now!’ describes the substantial benefits which have been offered by the Global Fund to many countries and have opened the way for an effective application of harm reduction programmes and subsequently demonstrates that a crisis in the Global Fund, followed by big cuts in funding and the implementation of the so-called ‘55% rule’ would be a disaster for those countries that have prevalent HIV rates and need immediate help.
The Global Fund is the most important donor of HIV and harm reduction programmes funding targeting people who inject drugs and has spent enormous funds in order to relieve all the countries in need. Between the Rounds 1 and 10, it has spent $582 in drug use programs. It has given grants to 59 out of 148 countries with injecting drug use. Ukraine is a good example, as the HIV prevention programmes funded by the Global Fund reached many vulnerable parts of the Ukrainian society including IDU’s and sex workers, vulnerable women and homosexual men. In rounds 9 and 10 its resources grew and many countries received funding. Thanks to this funding, HIV infection among IDU’s were brought to zero through effective combined programmes, such as needles and syringes programs, substitution and antiretroviral treatment, peer education and advocacy. The Global Fund has been supporting transparency, civil society and drug users’ participation and active engagement in decision making on HIV resource allocation. It has succeeded in reducing the HIV rates of HIV transmission among IDU’s throughout the years.
But, unfortunately, according to the report, the Global Fund is currently going through a big funding crisis. In November of 2011 it announced that no grants would be funded until 2014 due to lack of available resources. The Global Fund has put forward a new ‘55% rule’ which limits funding for countries with middle income status and grants the existing resources exclusively to low-income countries, such as the sub-Saharan Africa. This decision was due to some institutional arrangements and grant negotiations in countries with injecting-led epidemics. The International HIV/AIDS Alliance urges the Global Fund to continue granting the funding in the same way as it has been doing for so many years, as the results in many countries will be destructive. The Eastern European and Asian countries will be badly affected by the new rule, and it won’t be possible for the harm reduction programmes and aims scheduled for the next few years to be accomplished. The spread of HIV epidemics will rise in some regions due to unsafe injecting practices and the middle income countries will be mainly affected.
The report makes a series of recommendations some of which are very noteworthy: First of all, it calls on the Global Fund to ‘continue to prioritise the scale up of HIV and harm reduction interventions’ and to revoke the new ‘55th rule’. It stresses the fact that the Global Fund’s funding policy should not be based on country income status and that the Global Fund Board should come up with a different strategy of prioritisation based on disease burden in every country. The International HIV/AIDS Alliance also calls on bilateral donors and national governments to stay loyal in their commitments regarding HIV and drug use programs. It focuses on the importance of the participation of the drug using and HIV affected communities and insists on an evidence and human rights based approach.
The ultimate purpose of the report is to emphasize that a funding crisis in the Global Fund entails a clear crisis in harm reduction and that measures have to be immediately taken for a redefinition of priorities, which will take the work of the Global Fund forward and make it stay loyal to its ambitions, aims and commitments.
You can read the whole report here