Thirty years into the response, the fight against HIV and AIDS has slowed dangerously amid funding shortfalls and competing global interests.
Yet HIV and AIDS continue to pose one of the biggest threats to development of African women and other marginalized communities who continue to be disproportionately affected.
In the next decade, women cannot be guaranteed access to prevention, treatment, care and sexual reproductive health services unless there is a complete overhaul of the current AIDS financing architecture.
A review of AIDS expenditure for the last ten years reveals a precarious picture: 90% of AIDS budgets in African countries are dependent on external funding from a pool that is shrinking year on year.
As development partners roll back funding, Africa feels the shocks -- with long term ramifications for the health of millions of people affected, especially women and girls.
The time is ripe for alternative solutions to AIDS financing in Africa.
RETHINK HIV -- an AIDS financing research initiative -- is part of this urgent push. At ActionAid, where the battle against HIV and AIDS has been part of our anti-poverty work for the last two decades, we're proud to be associated with its launch.
The brainchild of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and the Rush Foundation, Rethink HIV brings together health economists, epidemiologists, demographers and three Nobel Laureates, to agree on a set of bold, new, actionable priorities for HIV and AIDS spending in Africa.
The expert panel is tasked with reviewing 18 research papers tackling the question:
If we successfully raised an additional US$10 billion over the next 5 years to combat HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, how could it best be spent?
Applying cost-benefit analysis to a raft of new ideas and existing responses, the panel will identify interventions with the highest payoffs in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa.
The most promising financing alternatives papers will be discussed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in December 2011, when African leaders and development partners meet at the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA). .
We hope the initiative will inspire action in three key areas, to secure HIV and AIDS funding where it is needed most:
- African governments allocating more national budgets to HIV and AIDS programmes
- International community committing more development assistance budgets in support of country led responses
- Investment in approaches demonstrated to be most innovative and effective in curtailing HIV&AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, especially investments into women's health
The Rethink HIV conference is convened by the RUSH foundation and Copenhagen Consensus in Georgetown University, Washington DC from 25-28 September 2011 and at ICASA 2011 in December.
ActionAid's Ken Odumbe, Africa Regional co-ordinator on HIV and AIDS, is part of the Rethink HIV conference in September. He'll be seeking to ensure that assessment parameters, reflect principles of Human rights, Women’s rights and greater involvement of people living with HIV and AIDS.
ActionAid is one of five organizations nominated to sit on the Civil Society Organisation expert panel at the ICASA conference in December, leading discussions on alternative financing in light of the research recommendations.