Feature story

Faith-based action: Confronting the impact of HIV funding cutbacks

08 June 2011

Credit: Caritas

A High Level Meeting side event called Faith-based action to achieve universal access: Confronting the impact of funding cutbacks and advocating for the special needs of mothers and children living with HIV was held on 8 June. It was sponsored by Catholic HIV/AIDS Network (CHAN), Caritas Internationalis (CI), and Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB).

Becky Johnson of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance presented recent research conducted among 11 members of the CHAN documenting the effects of flat lining of funding on Catholic health service delivery partners. The position paper includes analysis of impact of funding cuts on HIV responses in medical programmes. Concerned about meeting universal access targets, the paper includes a call to governments that donors maintain their long-term funding commitments to ensure the continuation of current HIV treatment programmes, as well as new programmes where needed and for health infrastructure.

It also recommends the provision of comprehensive and integrated prevention, treatment, care and support for adults and children living with or vulnerable to HIV infection. It identifies a need to build, strengthen and sustain human resource capacity to carry out comprehensive programmes through training and retention of skilled staff and volunteers.

Its third recommendation focuses on children. It calls for improved access to paediatric testing and child friendly treatment for HIV and HIV/TB co-infection; prevention of vertical transmission; and continued support for orphans and vulnerable children.

AIDS has brought to our attention the need to bridge health services with the broader issues of human rights, and social justice to address the root causes of vulnerability

Dr Paul De Lay, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Programme

UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Programme, Paul De Lay was an invited speaker at the event. Dr De Lay challenged the participants to think about what we really mean by “universal access”. He drew attention to the fact that AIDS brought together the medical community with the populations most affected by the disease, for the first time in the history of public health. "AIDS has brought to our attention the need to bridge health services with the broader issues of human rights, and social justice to address the root causes of vulnerability," Dr De Lay said.

Msgr Vitillo, Caritas Internationalis Special adviser on HIV/AIDS, made a strong plea for greater investment in the development of child friendly medications for HIV and the difficulties faced by mothers when asked to split adult tablets into six pieces for their children.

The event was moderated by Ms Finola Finnan, Trócaire and Chair of Catholic HIV and AIDS Network and Mr Jack Galbraith, President and CEO, Catholic Medical Mission Board.

UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS

Thirty years into the AIDS epidemic, and 10 years since the landmark UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS, the world has come together to review progress and chart the future course of the global AIDS response at the 2011 UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS from 8–10 June 2011 in New York. Member States are expected to adopt a new Declaration that will reaffirm current commitments and commit to actions to guide and sustain the global AIDS response.