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COVID-19 Has Devastated HIV and TB Services According to New Global Fund ReportU.S. and Other Donor Support Has Been and Will Continue to be Essential to Avoid Losing 20 Years of Progress

September 9, 2021

Washington, DC – New data released by the Global Fund today shows that COVID-19 had a devastating impact on the fight against AIDS and tuberculosis in 2020, and it makes clear the critically important role of emergency support provided by the U.S. as part of the American Rescue Plan.

For the first time in the history of the Global Fund, key programmatic results in the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria have gone backwards, the annual results report showed. About one million fewer people with TB were treated in 2020 compared with 2019. For drug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant TB, testing and treatment declined by a staggering 19% and 37%, respectively. Until COVID-19 arrived, TB killed more people globally than any other infectious disease and is now the second deadliest infectious disease in the world.

HIV continues to hit young women and girls the hardest. Every week, 5,000 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV in east and southern Africa. But in 2020, 11% fewer people were reached with HIV prevention programs and services. HIV tests declined by 22%. For HIV treatment, children have been left furthest behind, with only 54% getting the lifesaving HIV treatment they need.

Malaria programming fared better through the pandemic, but progress against the disease – which killed over 400,000 people in 2019 — has stalled.

Yet the impact of COVID-19 today would have been even worse without support from the United States and other countries, whose investments allowed the Global Fund to move with speed and scale to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on HIV, TB and malaria in 2020.

In 2021, the United States committed an additional $3.5 billion to the Global Fund’s COVID-19 Response Mechanism as part of the American Rescue Plan. The COVID-19 Response Mechanism is helping to support innovations like delivering malaria bed nets door-to-door, dispensing multi-month supplies of TB and HIV drugs and using digital tools to monitor TB treatment.

For example, with the Global Fund’s support, in Nigeria, the National AIDS Council tested for both COVID-19 and HIV simultaneously, helping the country find more HIV-positive people. Most malaria campaigns quickly adapted to COVID-19, avoiding large disruptions, and the number of children protected through Seasonal Chemoprevention Campaigns has increased.

U.S. emergency funding has also made a direct and tangible impact on the COVID-19 response in low- and middle-income countries receiving Global Fund grants. The emergency U.S. funds are being used to shore up health systems, scale-up COVID-19 rapid testing and provide desperately needed therapeutics like oxygen. As of August 2021, $3.3 billion had been approved for 107 countries and 16 multi-country programs through the COVID-19 Response Mechanism and flexibilities within existing grants.

As the Delta variant tore through India earlier this year, the Global Fund was able to fast-track $75 million to the country to purchase oxygen concentrators and Pressure Swing Adsorption oxygen plants. When Delta caused a surge of COVID-19 cases in Uganda, the Global Fund was able to support the country’s urgent order for additional PPE and COVID-19 tests. As of July 5, the Global Fund had delivered 2.5 million diagnostic tests to Uganda.

“I want to thank Congress for providing a significant infusion of COVID-19 funding to the Global Fund during a critical and terrifying time. The new data confirms that COVID-19 has had a devastating impact and also makes clear how crucial U.S. support continues to be,” said Chris Collins, president and CEO of Friends of the Global Fight. “Next year’s data will be even more shocking if we do not step up and increase investments in global health. The lives of millions of people are now on the line. With dangerous new COVID-19 variants wreaking havoc, particularly in low-income countries, the United States and its partners must do more to make sure that 20 years of progress against AIDS, TB and malaria won’t come undone.”

Dr Jeffrey L. Sturchio, Friends’ Board Chair and chairman at Rabin Martin, a global health strategy consulting firm, agreed.

“Let’s not forget that the Global Fund has been remarkably effective, saving 44 million lives since 2002. It has weathered the crisis of operating during a global pandemic, but it needs more resources. The world can’t afford to backslide any further on fighting AIDS, TB and malaria. Investments to end these epidemics will also help to strengthen health systems to meet the dual challenges of addressing COVID-19 and preparing for future pandemics.”