Angola May Cut Funding for HIV Prevention as Oil Prices Fall

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Angola May Cut Funding for HIV Prevention as Oil Prices Decline
A pedestrian waits by an oil tanker waiting in a queue of traffic outside the Port of Luanda in Luanda, Angola. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Angola may spend less than half the money it did in 2013 to fight HIV next year as declining oil prices reduce revenue and donors scale back funding to Africa’s second-largest producer of the commodity.

The southwest African country is budgeting $11 million to battle HIV infections next year, compared with $16 million for 2014 and $22 million in 2013, Antonio Rodrigues Coelho Neto, president of Rede Angolana das Organizacoes de Servicos de Sida, said yesterday by phone. The Luanda-based aid agency helps patients suffering from AIDS.

The Angolan government’s ability to help stop the deadly disease “depends on how many resources we invest, especially in counseling campaigns, retro-viral treatment and health worker training,” Neto said. “Angola is doing the opposite, leading to the increase of new infections and deaths.”

A cut to funding risks the success the nation of 24 million has had against HIV, where the 2.4 percent infection rate is among the lowest in Africa, Neto said. Angola has cut education outlays and said it may further adjust spending after oil prices plunged more than 30 percent since June.

Angola’s government relies on oil for more than three quarters of revenue. Legislators are preparing a budget for 2015 that may post a deficit of 7.8 percent of gross domestic product. Last year’s GDP was $122 billion, according to the World Bank.

Civil War

Grants in addition to government funding from groups such as the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United Nations and the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have fallen from $17 million in 2013 to a projected $5 million next year, Neto said. Angola receives less donor funding because the UN considers the nation a middle-income country, he said.

Six calls and an e-mail seeking comment on the funding from Dulcelina Serrano, managing director of the National Institute for the Fight Against AIDS, were unanswered.

Angola’s 27-year civil war that ended in 2002 helped keep transmission rates low because of closed borders and roads that were destroyed. The HIV infection rate is 13 percent and 14 percent, respectively, in neighboring Zambia and Namibia, according to the UN. Some of the region’s highest rates are in South Africa with 19 percent, and Botswana at 22 percent.

More than 250,000 people live with HIV/AIDS in Angola, Neto said. About 28,000 people a year contract the disease and 12,000 die, he said. More than 68,000 adults and 4,750 children have access to retroviral drug treatments while the rest don’t, he said.

“There is a lot of discrimination against people living with HIV,” Neto said. “Sex workers and gays were abandoned for many years and they aren’t still paid attention to.”

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