Indonesia’s HIV/AIDS
programs at risk

The fight against HIV/AIDS in Indonesia is precarious since most civil society groups working to prevent the disease rely on foreign funding, a report said Wednesday.

Indonesia’s executive summary for the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on AIDS reported the international community contributed US$29.7 million to the country’s HIV/AIDS funds, which totaled $49.5 million in 2009.

In 2008, 61 percent or $30.9 million of Indonesia’s AIDS funding came from international donations, while the remaining 39 percent came from central and district governments, the Indonesian National AIDS Commission (KPA) reported.

The sixth Millennium Development Goal (MDG) set by the United Nations is to halt and reverse the spread of HIV and AIDS by 2015.

According to Aditya Wardana from Indonesia’s UNGASS Forum, HIV/AIDS programs run by civil society groups and NGOs are at risk of falling by the wayside when donations stop.

The Indonesia UNGASS Forum is a coalition of 17 civil society groups working in HIV/AIDS prevention who monitor the execution of the HIV/AIDS prevention road map drawn up by the UNGASS. They recently released a report which highlighted, among other things, government spending for HIV/AIDS programs.

“When the funds stop, the achievements attained during the period when the programs were running will be wasted. Without funds, these societies wouldn’t be able to follow up with their clients,” he said.

The KPA National HIV and AIDS Strategy and Action Plan 2010 — 2014 reports that the AIDS epidemic in Indonesia is one of the fastest growing in Asia. The report estimated that there were 227,700 people living with HIV/AIDS in Indonesia in 2007, a figure it said would double to 501,400 by 2014.

“Those who previously received free condoms and syringes might start getting those items for themselves, but some may not,” Aditya added.

In one case more than 100 civil society groups ceased catering to people with HIV/AIDS when their common foreign donor stopped their funding, forcing groups to fire workers and therefore severing links to their clients, he said.

“As Indonesia’s economy grows, international donors are questioning why they should continue channeling funds to Indonesia. They do not realize that economic gain does not trickle down to HIV/AIDS programs,” he said.

The KPA’s report included predictions that the gap between funds available and funds needed will continue to widen. In 2010, there would be a $30 million deficit and by 2015 the deficit would near $150 million.

National AIDS Commission secretary Nafsiah Mboi said the commission predicted an increase in the need for funds as new cases of HIV/AIDS crop up every year.

“Our strategy is to continually advocate for increases in state and regional budgets for HIV/AIDS programs, especially for at-risk regions, districts and cities,” she said, adding that the KPA trained local officials to recognize epidemics and what can be done.

She said the state had other plans and priorities besides HIV/AIDS programs.

The stigma certain decision makers harbored against HIV/AIDS further encumbered generous government funding, she said. “The budget for HIV/AIDS is not large.”

Aditya said one way to secure government funding was to require certain sectors to allocate resources to HIV/AIDS prevention programs.(gzl)

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