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Lack of funds hinders promising HIV/AIDS treatment

Funding shortfalls have prevented promising HIV/AIDS treatment from being widely implemented.

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Promising HIV/AIDS prevention research comes at a time when funding has prevented implementation. (TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

New evidence about the effectiveness of the treatment as prevention strategy (TasP) has offered hope for treating HIV/AIDS and also preventing transmission to sexual partners, said a report by Al Jazeera.

Breakthrough research published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2011 showed that the anti-retroviral treatment also prevented the transmission of HIV to sexual partners with 96 percent effectiveness.

Results from the first study to look at the applicability of TasP in real life were published in March 2012 and looked very promising, said Al Jazeera.

Dr. Julio Montaner, the director of the British Columbia Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in Canada, who has pioneered TasP research since the mid-90s, told Al Jazeera, "We have the opportunity here to change the course of history. It is within our grasp to see an HIV-free generation in our lifetime."

More on GlobalPost: Making sure the national HIV/AIDS strategy works

However, funding for organizations like The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (the largest financier in the fight against HIV/AIDS) has fallen short by $20 billion in 2012 because of G8 countries reneging on previous financial commitments. The shortfalls have forced The Global Fund to freeze financing of existing programs and decline program requests for 2012, including the implementation of TasP.

According to the Associated Press, the general director of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Bruno Jochum, said, "New treatments for patients have been put on hold. In some cases, treatment clinics have simply been shut down." International efforts by the United States and the United Nations had been scaled back on the premise that The Global Fund would pick up the slack.

Dr. Eric Goemaere, the head of MSF's South African branch, said, "We are going back in time in those countries and in a way we are in danger of driving the epidemic underground," according to the AP.

The discouraging news about funding comes at the same time as encouraging news that early treatment could help HIV patients spend less time on stronger and more expensive drugs later, according to Voice of America.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/health/120331/lack-funds-hinders-promising-hiv-aids-treatment