Global financial crisis and it’s implications for HIV response

"A careful monitoring of the situation is needed and efforts should be taken to protect, particularly the poorest among the population groups who are vulnerable to HIV infection and made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS" (Asian People’s Alliance to Combat HIV/AIDS)

Asian People’s Alliance to Combat HIV/AIDS (APACHA) Statement on the Global financial crisis and it’s implications for HIV response.

Currently, global markets are experiencing severe economic turmoil, characterised by dented faith in global economic regulatory institutions, severe credit crunch, and depletion of asset values. Many fear that the current crisis may lead to a synchronized economic recession in the major world economies in the near future. Such a scenario has wide reaching implications on all aspects of modern human society. However, it has severe implications on health and well-being of economically and socially vulnerable sections of society, particularly individuals and communities vulnerable to HIV and made vulnerable by HIV infection.

Asian People’s Alliance to Combat HIV/AIDS (APACHA) call all the key stakeholders to focus attention on the global financial crisis and it’s implications for HIV response in general and specially on economically and social weaker sections of the society who are infected, affected and made vulnerable by HIV.

The health-financing models in many developing countries rely heavily on direct state support and individuals own resources for health care and related support services. Even a slight financial downturn in such countries may have implications on health and well being of already vulnerable populations.

There are limited data and models available to predict the trajectories of such impact on HIV response in general.

APACHA is concerned that a severe global financial crisis may have implications on all major aspect of HIV response such as reduced resources for conducting information, education and communication for (IEC) efforts for prevention, care, treatment and stigma reduction. Essential HIV support services may be cut as the direct result of any massive economic downturn, such as what is happening in Zimbabwe. Resource limitations may dampen advocacy for greater community participation and the creation of supportive social environment, which is an essential component of an effective HIV response.

Efforts to implement good governance practice is an area which has achieved the least progress in the overall HIV response. Good governance- transparency and accountability- could be one of early casualty of economic downturn as agencies may be tempted to cut corners with service delivery.

When calls are being made "to know your epidemic", resource crunch may slow the efforts to create and manage localised HIV knowledge and capacity development

In this context, the role of civil society will be crucial. Civil society must be extra vigilant to monitor the level of inequity in HIV response and to ensure that the most vulnerable populations, particularly, economically vulnerable populations groups are not further stressed under the weight of a failed global economic system.

In many countries, the HIV response is depends largely on Overseas Development Assistance (ODA). HIV care and treatment programs in several countries are completely dependant on the generosity of global community. Continuing access to affordable HIV testing, counselling, care and treatment needs to be ensured. Investment in HIV related skill and capacity development is essential for continuing an effective HIV response

The victims of the economic downturn should not be the programs for blood safety, access to clean needle and syringe programs, programs for reducing mother to child transmission of HIV, access to condoms and diagnostics facilities.

The economic cost of implementing non-discriminatory policies, which reduce stigmatization and human rights violations, must not be used as an excuse to scale down such programs.

Civil society must ensure that structural reforms continue, such as the decriminalization of consensual sex, protection of the basic human rights, and promotion of universal access to health care.

Any economic bailout package of the currently flawed market economy must ensure the best interest of the economically poorest segment of society. They should not have to pay the price for the worst of the past unregulated economies and excesses of a few, which preceded the current crisis.

The food crisis, which preceded the current economic crisis, has already made a severe dent on the food and nutritional security of people infected and affected by HIV, particularly from the economically weaker sections of the society. Unfortunately, even before the global HIV civil society grappled with the implications of a global food crisis, the economic crisis has hit, making the situation further worse.

In June 2001, 189 Heads of State and government representatives signed the United Nations Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS. They promised to fight stigma and discrimination, promoting prevention, mobilizing resources, advocating universal access to treatment and promoting accountability. An economic crisis should not be an excuse to reverse their promises.

Asian People’s Alliance to Combat HIV/AIDS (APACHA) call up on all the key stakeholders of HIV response to carefully monitor the implications of current Global Economic crisis and the worsened food sovereignty crisis. The global HIV leadership must carefully monitor the situation and efforts should be taken to protect the poorest among the population group who are vulnerable to HIV infection and made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS.

We call up on:

1. Governments to "Keep the Promise!" A financial crisis should not be an excuse to turn away from the promises they have made.

2. UNAIDS to develop a global advocacy strategy to address the impact of the financial crisis on HIV response, with particular emphasis on poor, marginalised and vulnerable population groups.

3. Global Fund to ensure a preferential option for the poor in all of their future grant making.

4. Civil society to be vigilant and monitor the impact of the economic crisis on HIV responses, particularly on poor, marginalised and vulnerable population groups.

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