July 20, 2014

Global funding for HIV prevention for people who inject drugs in crisis

Written by Susie McLean

Three leading HIV and drugs organisations have issued a stark warning that global funding for HIV prevention for people who inject drugs is in crisis and that achieving an ‘AIDS-free generation’ will be impossible without concerted action.

To coincide with the 20th International AIDS Conference, Harm Reduction International, the International Drug Policy Consortium and the International HIV/AIDS Alliance are publishing a report which indicates that HIV prevention services for people who inject drugs are not being prioritised due to changing donor policies and national government neglect. This failure to invest will bring an exponential rise in HIV transmission which in turn will cause additional costs to government health sectors.

The report, The funding crisis for harm reduction: Donor retreat, government neglect and the way forward, highlights that:

  • US $2.3 billion is needed in 2015 alone to fund HIV prevention among people who inject drugs, according to UNAIDS
  • Only US $160 million was invested by international donors at last count – approximately seven percent of what is required
  • Changes in the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria threaten to significantly reduce allocations for harm reduction
  • International donors such as the UK are withdrawing aid from some of the most affected countries due to their ‘middle income’ status
  • National governments are neglecting HIV prevention for people who inject drugs, and instead spend vast public sums on ineffective drug law enforcement
  • Just one tenth of one year’s drug enforcement expenditure (estimated to exceed $100 billion globally) would fund global HIV prevention for people who inject drugs for four years

The report recommends changes in international donor priorities and national spending to address the crisis.

Read this article in Sunday’s Observer for more information about the report which can be downloaded from Monday 21 July here.

The author Susie McLean is senior advisor on drug use and HIV with the International HIV/AIDS Alliance.