Australia’s peak HIV organisation has called on the Gillard Government to bring forward its financial commitment to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, saying the current global financial crisis is putting treatment programs at risk.

Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) executive director Rob Lake said Australia should take a leading role to ensure funding does not drop off as a result of the European financial crisis.

The Fund announced in November it would cancel its 2012 round of new funding due to a lack of money.

“We’re campaigning to trying to get governments to respond,” Lake told the Star Observer.

“We’ve had all this new research come out about the importance of people being on HIV treatments, in terms of long-term health and even transmission … and the main tool we have to make it work, in developing countries particularly, has stalled.

“The Australian Government has made quite a long-term commitment and we’re saying, right now, which is the crisis time, can you bring that funding forward from next financial year to this financial year.”

It’s estimated 48 percent of all people (worldwide) on HIV treatments depend on the Fund to receive their medication.

AFAO’s call comes as the Fund celebrates its 10-year anniversary. January 28 marks a decade since the launch of what’s considered one of the most successful public health efforts in history.

The Fund is said to help save an estimated 100,000 lives every month, or eight million lives since 2002.

A World Health Organisation and UNAIDS report released in November showed, thanks to improving treatments, a decrease in the number of HIV-related deaths, as well as a steady decline in the number of new HIV infections globally, especially in Africa.

Poverty advocacy group RESULTS International Australia national manager Maree Nutt echoed Lake’s calls.

“Now is not the time to scale back our efforts,” Nutt said.

“The tragic irony is that just as there is real hope to end disease, donors are forcing the Global Fund to stall in its progress.”

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