Defining and refining international donor support for combating the AIDS pandemic

Lancet. 2001 Jan 6;357(9249):57-61. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(00)03576-5.


The international aid effort against AIDS is greatly incommensurate with the severity of the epidemic. Drawing on the data that international aid donors self-reported to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), we find that, between 1996 and 1998, finance from all rich countries to sub-Saharan Africa for projects designated as AIDS control averaged US $69 million annually, and, assuming a safe margin for under-reporting and misreporting, we estimate that total donor spending on HIV/AIDS control was perhaps twice that at most. Since the late 1980s, aid levels have dropped relative to the prevalence of HIV infection, and stood recently at about $3 per HIV-infected person. Lack of finance is now the primary constraint on progress against AIDS, notwithstanding the widespread belief that a lack of interest from the goveements of poor countries is limiting. We argue that to produce a meaningful response to the pandemic, international assistance must be based on grants, not loans, for the poorest countries; be increased within the next 3 years to a minimum of $7.5 billion or more; be directed toward funding projects which are proposed and desired by the affected countries themselves, and which are judged as having epidemiological merit against the pandemic by a panel of independent scientific experts; and fund concurrent needs, including prevention, drug treatment (such as highly active antiretroviral therapy), and blocking mother-to-child HIV transmission. An effort of this scope and scale will both radically alter the prospects for intervention against AIDS in poor countries, and together with comparable efforts to control other infectious diseases, is easily afforded by the OECD donor economies, whose aggregate national income recently surpassed $21 trillion annually.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / economics
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Communicable Disease Control / economics
  • Communicable Disease Control / statistics & numerical data*
  • Developing Countries / economics
  • Developing Countries / statistics & numerical data
  • Financial Support
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation*