HIV/AIDS Monitor at the Center for Global Development

There is a new HIV/AIDS Monitor at the Center for Global Development. The aim of this resource is to assess how well the large amounts of money from UNAIDS, PEPFAR and other sources are being spent. Looks to be very interesting, particularly in light of the recent GAO study (link to WaPo article on the topic) which suggested that the abstinence-only provisions are putting a damper on the quality of programming for AIDS funding.

I am not sure if the GAO is the last word on this topic, but some of the elements from the study were disconcerting (and echo some of Helen Epstein’s concerns from the New York Review of Books from last year). Here are some of the choice sections from the Post piece on the issue:

The Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator requires that 20 percent of all AIDS spending go for prevention. Half the prevention budget must be spent to stop sexual transmission of HIV. Two-thirds of that spending, in turn, must be used promoting abstinence and fidelity.
“Most of the 20 PEPFAR teams . . . reported that fulfilling [that requirement] presents challenges to their ability to respond to the local epidemiology and cultural and social norms,” the GAO authors wrote. About half a dozen teams said the spending requirement “can undermine the integrated nature of HIV/AIDS prevention programs.”

The final paragraphs of the article suggest that the fears of undo restrictions on actual work on the ground may be overblown. I think this is something CGD and other monitoring efforts need to get a handle on.

But the AIDS coordinator’s office, which is in the State Department, has shown considerable flexibility in administering the rules.

The office also exempts some countries’ programs from meeting the abstinence-spending target as long as the entire overseas AIDS-prevention budget meets it. Ten of the 20 countries surveyed got exemptions.

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