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Comunicato stampa

Da: Ifrc – Comunicato stampa di venerdì 17 ottobre 2003

Dear 
all please find below for your information, a press release in response to the outcome of the global fund board meeting. 
all the best 
Jemini Pandya 
Media Service
Red Cross Red Crescent welcomes Global Fund move to tackle HIV/AIDS among injecting drug users.

A decision by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM) to finance HIV/AIDS prevention and care programmes among injecting drug users in Thailand and Russia, has been welcomed by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies as a significant step in tackling the issue.

In welcoming this move, Dr Massimo Barra, a GFATM board member and veteran of the Italian Red Cross HIV/AIDS response including a harm reduction approach, also called for more responses that follow humanitarian and public health principles.

“The stigma attached to drug use is causing further marginalization of this most vulnerable group and this is directly impeding efforts to prevent the spread of HIV. Forcing drug-users further underground and into situations where transmission of HIV/AIDS is more likely, and denying them access to life-saving treatment and prevention services is creating a public health disaster,” he said.

“This happens even though the evidence from scientific and medical research on best practices and cost benefit analyses is overwhelmingly in favour of harm reduction programming”. The International Federation sees programmes tackling the transmission of HIV/AIDS through shared needle use and the stigma and discrimation associated with it, as essential to the battle against the pandemic.

Red Cross societies in Europe, including Russia, have begun such initiatives, including needle exchange and drug treatment. The approval of the a US$1.38 million grant for Care Thailand and US$88.7 million for an NGO consortium in Russia came at a meeting of the GFATM board in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai. It is the first time that the Global Fund has backed harm reduction efforts in South East Asia, parts of which are witnessing an HIV/AIDS epidemic fuelled by injecting drug use.

Injecting drug user groups and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) have participated in efforts to develop country specific programmes for Global Fund financing around the world, but have found it difficult to convince some Ministries of the need for programmes to tackle HIV transmission through needle sharing.

This despite injecting drug use being the main factor in the HIV/AIDS epidemic in areas such as Eastern Europe. The grants to Thailand and Russia was one piece of positive news emerging from this latest GFATM board meeting. The Fund is still dramatically short of money promised by rich countries to scale up the HIV/AIDS battle as agreed at a special UN General Assembly (UNGASS) two years ago in New York.
In this funding round, fewer people will be given access to anti-retroviral treatment through Global Fund money than on previous funding rounds, particularly in Africa. This despite global targets to increase the number of people with access to HIV/AIDS treatment. “This is just not good enough. The Fund should be growing ? not shrinking,” said Bernard Gardiner, manager of the International Federation’s global HIV/AIDS programme.

“At UNGASS, all countries agreed to specific objectives to stop HIV/AIDS. It is not only time to honour those promises to keep people alive, but imperative to do so.”

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