US, France assures HIV experts of their support

In Paris, France

The US and France have assured HIV experts of their commitment to the global fund by increasing contribution.

The two leading financiers of research and science for HIV response, had earlier hinted a cut in their funding.

Speaking at the 9th International Aids Society of HIV science conference in Paris, France, on Sunday, Ms Deborah Birx, an American physician and diplomat who currently serves as Ambassador-at-Large and as United States Global AIDS Coordinator, said the US is committed to ensuring that HIV, tuberculosis and malaria are eradicated.

“We are still deeply committed to the global fund and increasing our contribution is essential,’’ Ms Birx said.

LARGEST CONTRIBUTOR

Similarly, French Minister of Solidarity and Health Prof. Agnes Buzyn, reiterated her country’s commitment in eradication of HIV/Aids.

“France remains the second largest contributor to the global fund and we are not planning to reduce our contribution,” said Prof. Buzyn.

In May, the US President Donald Trump, proposed a cut in their budget programmes to combat HIV/AIDS in the world’s poorest countries.

FAVOURABLE DEVELOPMENT

In the past decade, Africa has benefited from America’s favourable development support policy and humanitarian assistance.

The programme has led to a tremendous improvement in the continent’s health sector.

The US has spent about Sh7 trillion ($70 billion) to support anti-HIV programmes, a project launched in 2004 to provide anti-retroviral treatment, prevent new infections in sub-Saharan Africa.

In Kenya, the Barack Obama administration has over the last eight years given about $3.5 billion (Sh350 billion) in health programmes.

VULNERABLE

In reference to the President Emergency Plan for Aids Relief, she said it was a requirement in the budget that they continues providing services to orphans and vulnerable children.

“We are committed in continuing with the commitment because it is a requirement in our budget,” said Ms Birx adding that this, will however, be justified by the performance in the US operation plans to be launched in October.

Earlier, researchers had warned of an impending decrease in donor funding for HIV research.

The researchers warned that major governments were considering cuts in scientific research funding which would be a big blow to the strides so far made in the search for a cure to the killer scourge.

“The conference returns to Paris. It’s here and in the US that the HIV virus was discovered. The two countries have been globally funding leaders on the research and science for HIV response.

INTERNATIONAL LEADERS

Yet, today, we are seeing the countries’ leadership take very different stances on prioritising future investment into HIV science. Where are we headed?” asked Prof Linda Gail Bekker, the president of the International Aids Society.

She said that as the international leaders on HIV research, the conference will be an opportunity to push back against current threats to HIV research funding.

“This is not the time for the donors to disengage since it’s going to stall projects and cost the countries a big deal,” she said.

Prof Bekker was among  speakers during a journalists’ tour to Institut Pasteur in Paris where HIV was discovered in 1983.

Researchers say some countries no longer release money into global fund, reversing gains made.

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