Donation Drop Could Put HIV Successes at Risk, Report Says

Cambodia’s past success in driving down new HIV infections may be threatened by an anticipated reduction in donor funding of its AIDS program, according to a report presented to the National Assembly yesterday.

If the country prevents HIV ef­fectively over the next two de­cades, infections per year could drop by half—but if its efforts stall, then infections could nearly double, according to the report, which was conducted by the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STD, the Fi­nance Ministry and the Washing­ton-based Results for Develop­ment Institute.

Cambodia, which last year saw an estimated 2,100 new HIV infections, must prepare for donors reducing their financial support, which currently funds 90 percent of the country’s AIDS program, ‘The Long-Run Costs and Financing of HIV/AIDS in Cambodia’ study said.

A decline in services, especially targeted prevention, could mean as many as about 3,800 infections in 2031, while maintaining current coverage would mean about 1,500 infections that year, the re­port predicted.

Robert Hecht, managing director of Results for Development, said that over the past couple of years, donor funding for tacking HIV/AIDS has leveled off globally. “The story is not donors moving out, but donor assistance levels could fall,” Mr Hecht said. “Cambodia, with its economy grow­ing…should assume a larger proportion of funding.”

Cambodia can deal with the possible departure of HIV/AIDS funding partners by managing donor money as wisely as possible, managing a financing plan if partners walk out and filling the gaps by rai­sing government funds, said Ri­chard Skolnik, a lecturer at The George Washington University who worked on the report.

“There is strong feeling among people in the government and development partners to prepare for the possibility that they are not going to have that 90 percent anymore,” he said.

The report recommends scaling up targeted prevention programs for at-risk populations.

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