UNAIDS Head Appeals Not to Cut HIV Funding to China

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The head of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/ AIDS (UNAIDS) has cautioned that cutting funds to curb China’s fight against the disease would be a “big mistake.” This comes after critics say the world’s second-largest economy should no longer receive such aid simply because they think China is prosperous enough to fund its own AIDS program.

“I think it’ll be a big mistake for a donor and particularly, for anyone who’s invested in China today, to withdraw, for the simple reason that this funding is a catalytic fund,” Michel Sidibe, executive director for UNAIDS said in an interview with Reuters.

Several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in battling the disease in China admit that they are facing more difficulties in receiving donations from developed nations because of China’s economic status. The biggest blow comes from the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, which has announced that its donors will suspend $ 180 million of aid, which would affect its supposed $ 369 million worth of funds to China for AIDS research, treatment, and prevention programs. Meanwhile, Germany, Spain, and Denmark have also temporarily stopped payments to the Global Fund earlier this year over allegations that the donations had been misused.

HIV/ AIDS became a full-blown epidemic in China in the 1990s when hundreds of thousands of poor farmers in rural Henan province became infected through botched blood-selling schemes. As of 2009, the disease has infected over 740,000 people in China, spreading primarily through sexual contact.

China was slow at first in acknowledging the threat of the disease, but has since stepped up its efforts. It has spent more on AIDS prevention programs, provided universal access to anti-retroviral drugs, and introduced policies that would curb discrimination among HIV patients.

Source: Reuters
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