Antigua & Barbuda affected by withdrawal of AIDS funds
Some aspects of Antigua & Barbuda’s HIV/AIDS fighting machinery have been disarmed because funding to one key organisation at the forefront of the fight has been pulled.
The Unites States President Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) discontinued its funding of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training (CHART) at the University of the West Indies (UWI).
This has crippled the operations of the local CHART office, and the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Alliance (CHAA).
CHART offers training to nurses and social workers in the fight against the disease, while CHAA caters to the needs of commercial sex workers and men who have sex with men or MSM’s.
The non-profit agencies, which augment the work of the AIDS Secretariat, will close doors by month end.
AIDS Programme Manager Delcora Williams said the closure of the two agencies leaves a “vacuum” which will have to be filled.
“It will cause a vacuum, in the fact that they used to meet a demand that Antigua & Barbuda could not meet, because of the fact of who they were targeting,” Williams said.
Williams said the national AIDS programme will have to find innovative ways to target the group categorised as the Most at Risk Population (MARPs), and this will mean additional cost.
PEPFAR, through the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), which manages the US Funding globally, discontinued funding CHART as of September 1, as part of a global policy shift.
HRSA, informed some territories in a letter that “all PEPFAR programmes are being realigned to meet the 50 per cent care and treatment earmark mandated in authorising US legislation.”
The Organisation of Eastern States (OES) has been chopped from US funding as well.
PEPFAR/Emergency Plan started out as a commitment of $15 billion over five years (2003-2008) from then US President George W Bush to fight the global HIV/AIDS pandemic.