AIDS activists in the United States have expressed their concerns about president Barack Obama’s fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa.
By Serginho Roosblad
“I miss George W. Bush.”, said American AIDS activist Gregg Gonsalves. Reason for this is that president Obama is not providing the resources needed to sustain the growth rate in antiretroviral treatments through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR. This plan was a commitment from Bush to fight HIV/AIDS globally. It targets fifteen countries, twelve of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
However, the Obama administration has chosen to put its emphasis on fighting other global diseases like malaria, TB and diarrhea; prevention programmes which cost less. Therefore activist fear the new policy will have a negative effect on the previous success by the Bush administration.
Due in part to PEPFAR, the overall AIDS mortality rate for sub-Saharan Africa has fallen 18 per cent since 2004 when the Bush administration first started with the plan. A $19 billion US funding commitment for PEPFAR over the past five years enabled an average of 500.000 people with AIDS to be added to the treatment roster each year. Under Obama’s recently announced five-year PEPFAR strategy, the average annual growth rate would slow down to 320,000.
By 2014, according to this new plan, about four million people worldwide will be receiving antiretroviral drugs through PEPFAR. Roughly one million fewer, had the Bush-era growth rate been sustained.
Kenya ranks as the single-biggest beneficiary of PEPFAR, with close to 300.000 Kenyans receiving anti-viral drugs. Nigeria comes in second with 286.000 recipients. In Africa the plan mainly targets Eastern and Southern African countries.
Source: All Africa