AIDS Activist Indict New US Government Funding Program for AIDS Care in Developing Countries

"Too little - too late"

ACT UP confronted officials of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) at a satellite symposium held at the XIth International AIDS Conference. Jacob Gayle, head of AIDS programs for USAID, announced a pilot program expanding current funding for AIDS prevention programs in the developing world to perhaps include the provision of social services and health care.

Previously there was no money allocated for AIDS treatment, only prevention, thus writing off the currently HIV+ in the non-Northern world.

"It's become more and more clear over the years of the global AIDS epidemic that the most successful prevention programs in the developed world are those which combine education with the delivery of primary HIV care," said ACT UP/NY's Eric Sawyer, who was also one of the speakers at the conference'sopening ceremony.

"Many of us have been advocating for several years now that the more enlightened approach be expanded to the developing world; however, until now our demands have been callously ignored."

Current USAID policy guidelines providing funds for prevention efforts will expire in September 1997. Draft proposals for future policies contain no strong committment to funding treatment and care; rather they will establish three long-term operational studies to evaluate program options. Targeted countries will be those African nations with high sero-prevalence levels.

"While these pilot programs appear to be an admission that care is a necessary component to prevention programs, the new proposal is unacceptable," said ACT UP/Philadelphia's Nicole Lucier.

"The pilot programs are only operational studies and do not actually deliver care. Under the new proposed guidelines, USAID will spend the next two to five years "learning" how to deliver care when grassroots community people already know those answers. We don't need more studies; people dying from AIDS in the developing countries need an international committment to care!"

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