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Millions of lives hang on Global Fund pledges

For the past 12 years, Sibongile Mavimbela has been living with HIV. She has been taking anti-retrovirals for the past seven.

But her supply of free treatment could soon dry up if international donations to the Global Fund on HIV/Aids, TB and Malaria don’t add up to the £12 billion needed.

Over the eight years, the global fund has been running, it has provided free anti-retrovirals for 2.5 million people in 144 countries. Sibongile, a mother of two, is one of them

But as governments and corporate donors meet in New York this week to announce how much they can donate from 2011 to 2013, there are signs there won’t be enough money to keep this treatment going.

Germany, the third biggest donor to the Fund after the US and France, plans to cut its aid budget by two thirds. Italy is likely to stop giving to the fund entirely.  Other countries have announced only tiny increases.

Swaziland has the highest rate for HIV/Aids in the world - 26 percent of the southern African kingdom’s 1.1 million people are living with HIV/Aids. The virus has killed hundreds of thousands of workers and farmers and has made thousands of children orphans. Life expectancy has plummeted to less than 32 and two-thirds of its people lives below the poverty line. It has just put in its biggest ever application for Global Fund aid.

Sibongile and other Aids campaigners handed in a petition to the US and European embassies urging  better-off countries to promise to find the £12 billion the Global Fund needs over the next three years.

"We are also demanding that the Swazi government joins hands with other governments from developing countries during the Third Voluntary Replenishment Pledging Conference," she told Inter Press Service news agency.

Set up in 2002, the Global Fund has helped more than 140 countries deal with health crises caused by Aids, TB and Malaria. The organisation works with the people who live in disease affected countries and has provided anti-retroviral therapy for 2.8 million people living with HIV. But much more needs to be done. Just one third of those who need HIV treatment are getting it, according to figures from the Guardian newspaper, which says there has been a growing number of reports in Africa this year that people are being turned away from HIV/Aids treatment programs because of funding shortfalls.

Hayley attribution