The global financial crisis and a loss of interest in the Aids epidemic may translate into less money in coming years for research, treatment and prevention of the virus, HIV experts said.
They are especially concerned because a trial in Thailand has just shown it may be possible to make a vaccine to prevent Aids - the first hint of success in the 25 years since the pandemic began.
"I'm very concerned that Aids is slipping off the agenda in many countries of the world due to a combination of financial and economic crises," said Dr Peter Piot of the Institute for Global Health at Imperial College London and a former head of the United Nations Aids agency UNAIDS.
"The money that was spent to save banks, insurance companies and so on is going to have an impact in the social sector and in R&D (research and development)," Piot told a news conference at the start of a scientific Aids conference.
7,000 new infections daily
An estimated 33 million people around the world are infected with HIV and more than half of the 9.5 million people who need Aids drugs cannot get them, the UN reported in September. Every day, 7,000 people become newly infected with HIV.
"How much money will there be to enroll additional new patients? How much money will there be for new prevention activities?" Piot said.
Michel Kazatchkine of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was worried about treatments, too. "The financial crisis is clearly affecting the capacity of donors to fund international programs on Aids, and let's not forget that it is also affecting the developing countries that are struggling to keep up with their investments in health," he said. - (Tan Ee Lyn/Reuters, October 2009)