Funding shortages caused by the global financial crisis could lead to the death of millions of people with HIV/AIDS in the next few years, said Bertil Lindblad, director of UNAIDS’ New York office, during a World AIDS Day interview with the Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS).

“In times of funding constraints, greater efficiency and enhanced delivery of programs is more critical than ever,” he said.

Lindblad noted that while new infections worldwide have declined from 3 million to 2.7 million in 2007, there are still five new infections for every two people who are put on treatment. Furthermore, he said, the financial crisis will undermine the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which call for a global reversal of the AIDS epidemic by 2015.

“AIDS is one of the defining issues of our time; it remains true today and will remain a priority right through the 21st century,” Lindblad said. “AIDS, like climate change, is a long-wave, geopolitical event that has global impact. We are now entering into a new phase in the response to AIDS.”