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January 23, 2008

Health Experts Consider Shifting AIDS Funds

Some international health experts say it might be a good idea to shift some of the billions of dollars spent on fighting HIV/AIDS each year to address basic health problems such as a lack of clean water, poor family planning or diarrhea, reports the Associated Press (AP) (ap.google.com, 1/18).

According to the AP article, the world spends approximately $8 to $10 billion dollars to fight AIDS each year—more than 100 times what it spends on getting clean water to people in developing countries. Currently, about 1 billion people around the world lack access to clean water. “If we look at the data objectively, we are spending too much on AIDS,” said Dr. Malcolm Potts, an AIDS expert at the University of California, Berkeley.

Daniel Halperin, an AIDS expert at Harvard University's School of Public Health, recently wrote a commentary in The New York Times encouraging the re-examination of AIDS funds. Several experts and AIDS activists wrote letters both in support of and challenging Halperin’s arguments.

Some experts say that financial cuts in the fight against AIDS for any reason would be dangerous, reports the AP.

“We cannot let the pendulum swing back to a time when we didn't spend a lot on AIDS,” said Dr. Kevin De Cock, director of the AIDS department at the World Health Organization. “We now have millions of people on treatment, and we can't just stop that.”

Tom Coates, a professor of global AIDS research at the University of California, Los Angeles, agrees: “Let's not drag AIDS care and prevention down to the level of every other disease, but let's bring everything else up to the level of AIDS.”


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