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Fully finance HIV response will save millions of lives in Africa – UNAIDS

by Haruna Gimba
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By Asmau Ahmad

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) said that fully financing the HIV response in Africa will produce substantial health, social and economic gains for the continent.

UNAIDS said this in a report entitled “A Triple Dividend: The health, Social and Economic Gains from Financing the HIV Response on Africa” published on Wednesday.

The report, based on research by the Economist Impact partnership across 13 African countries, estimates that millions of lives will also be saved if funding is forthcoming.

“Not only would there be between 40 and 90 per cent fewer new HIV infections, depending on the country, but investing in ending the HIV epidemic would also enhance educational outcomes, especially for young women and girls, reduce gender inequalities and boost economic growth.

“This report comes at a critical time with evidence that should act as a catalyst for political decisions to ensure full HIV funding that will have substantial social and economic outcomes.

“It will put African countries on a path towards building more resilient healthcare systems and be better prepared for future pandemics,” said Winnie Byanyima, UNAIDS Executive Director.

The report demonstrates that failing to mobilise the required funding to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 has substantial health, social and economic costs.

“Countries in Africa are up against significant challenges to secure the necessary resources to increase domestic funding for the HIV response,” said Rob Cook, Clinical Programme Director at Economist Impact.

“Policymakers will need to think innovatively about how they can use existing financing more effectively.

“Drawing on existing community-centred networks could play a key role in both mobilising additional resources for the HIV response and ensuring that it is equitable and reaches those most in need,” he said.

Recent global crises, including COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine, have compromised efforts to address the HIV epidemic and placed strong pressure on financing for health and other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to UNAIDS, young women, children and other vulnerable populations will pay the highest price as pre-existing health and socio-economic inequalities grow.

The significant fiscal challenges facing African countries has limited their ability to increase domestic financing for HIV response and constrained overall health budgets.

Economist Impact’s research points towards the need for policies that aim to both generate new revenue streams and maximise the use of existing funds and resources.

Global 2025 targets include reducing new HIV infections to under 370,000 (from 1.5 million in 2021), reducing HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women to less than 50,000, and reducing the number of people dying from AIDS-related illnesses to less than 250,000 compared with 650,000 in 2021.

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