Losing ground: Less money for AIDS work

When members of faith-based groups get together these days, one concern is woven through every discussion: the flatlining or decline in funding for global AIDS work. According to Father Rob­ert Vitillo, an adviser on HIV and AIDS to Caritas Internationalis, this fund­ing crisis is already affecting the church's work.

"I was in Uganda in June. Our care workers there are being told that no new patients should be put on the rolls, and in some cases people are being dropped. Some newly diagnosed families are being told that they have to choose which person will get treatment. Given the culture of Africa, that means the family will divide up the medication to share it among several members. As a result, no one will get well," Vitillo said.

In October, the fears of faith-based groups were realized when donors from 40 countries met to make pledges to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. They raised only $11.7 billion over three years, far short of a hoped-for $20 billion, let alone the $13 billion needed to maintain treatment at its current rates. (The U.S. increased its pledge 40 percent, to $4 billion.) The new pledges mean the Global Fund will have only $4 billion per year through 2012, a dramatic drop from 2009, when donor governments provided $7.6 billion in one year for AIDS programs.