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Funding for HIV in Africa

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Guest Blog

Spotlight on HIV-related philanthropy in Africa

by Sarah Hamilton, Funders Concerned About AIDS (FCAA)

In partnership with the Africa Grantmakers’ Affinity Group, Funders Concerned About AIDS  has created a new infographic to spotlight the scope of 2017 philanthropy disbursed for HIV-related efforts in Africa. We believe such tools are key to helping private grantmakers better understand the funding landscape. This information is more necessary than ever as we face new challenges in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Funding and Community Challenges

Africa bears a heavy HIV/AIDS burden. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to more than two-thirds of all people living with HIV (PLWHA) in the world. FCAA’s latest data reveals that 26% ($169 million) of total HIV-related philanthropy in 2017 was directed to Africa.  

While philanthropy is only a small portion of the total resources available in the fight against HIV and AIDS in Africa, the environment among multilateral and bilateral donors is challenging, as well.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria – the world’s largest global health funder – has disbursed nearly $40 billion since 2012, 65% of which has been directed to Sub-Saharan Africa. The Global Fund is looking to mobilize $14 billion in its Sixth Replenishment and has set the goal for the private sector at $1 billion. This target is ambitious, to be sure. But it is also achievable. FCAA will continue to monitor and share opportunities for private funders to support the replenishment process. One important way to do that is by supporting the advocacy organizations working to ensure that the Global Fund is fully funded.

The U.S. government is the largest donor of HIV efforts in low- and middle-income countries. As such, it is essential to understand the current political landscape surrounding those resources. In January 2017, President Trump reinstated the “Global Gag” rule, restricting international organizations receiving U.S. funding from performing or promoting abortion services. While the original 1984 policy has been retained or reinstated by every Republican Administration, the current White House has expanded it to restrict all overseas U.S.-funded health programs, including services to treat and prevent HIV, tuberculosis (TB), and malnutrition.

This policy  threatens to stall progress in addressing HIV, sexual and reproductive health, and maternal health – all the more urgent when you see that in sub-Saharan Africa, young women aged 15-24 account for a quarter of all new HIV infections in the region in 2017, even though they represent only 10% of the population. AIDS is also the second leading cause of death among adolescents globally, and the number one cause of death among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa. Only half of all HIV-exposed infants are tested for HIV; less than half of the 2.1 million HIV positive children are on treatment.

Innovation Among Private Funders

Fortunately, private funders continue to find innovative ways to reach and build the capacity of affected communities.

This past July, The MTV Staying Alive Foundation and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine announced a three-year partnership to introduce storylines on HIV innovation, including self-testing and preventive drugs (including pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP) into the award-winning drama series MTV Shuga. We know such efforts pay off – a recent World Bank Study of 5,000 18-25 year-olds from across southwest Nigeria found that individuals who watched the show were 35% more likely to report getting tested for HIV.

The SRHR Africa Trust (formerly the Southern African AIDS Trust) launched the SAT Regional Youth Hubs in 2018, providing supportive spaces to bring together young activists active around sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) and gender equality issues. SAT will be hosting a Youth Leadership Program later this month in Johannesburg with the aim to begin a youth quake– “a powerful movement of dynamic and influential young leaders involved in and passionate about SRHR, particularly, Sustainable Goals 3, 4, 5 (good health, education and gender equality).”

Positive Action Challenges  – a ViiV Healthcare funded innovation platform – recently issued a new “reaching all children” challenge in partnership with the Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS to provide support to help document and demonstrate how social protection interventions supports HIV testing, treatment and care for children in low or middle-income countries.  

In 1999 Bristol-Myers Squibb launched its Secure The Future™ initiative – at the time the largest corporate philanthropic commitment of its kind –  focused on community outreach, education, and empowerment as well as medical care and research in sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on women and children. Now in its 20th year, learnings and infrastructure from the Initiative are helping to pave the way to help prevent the transmission of TB and to reduce deaths from cervical and breast cancers.

The Value of Data

It is also important to highlight that according to the 2017 UN World Population Prospects, by 2050 close to 2.2 billion people could be added to the global population, with more than half of that growth to occur in Africa.  The potential convergence of that predicted population growth, with the current political and financial landscape, and the fact that the majority of HIV-philanthropy for Africa was disbursed by just 10 donors in 2017 point to a dangerous climate ahead for the HIV response – one that makes the need for a prolonged and diversified commitment from philanthropy all the more critical. 

As just one tool to help fight against this, FCAA’s annual resource tracking report and infographics intend to shine a spotlight on the global philanthropic response to HIV and AIDS.  The data captured in this report helps funders to, among other things, make informed decisions about where your resources can make the most difference, matching available resources with existing needs. If your funding addresses or intersects with HIV-related issues, we encourage you to participate in this effort. The next call for data will be launched in late March.


Please find this and other resources, including new research identifying best practices in funding community, on the FCAA website.

Sarah Hamilton is Director of Operations and manages FCAA’s integrated approach to programming, communications, and development. She currently lives in Spokane, Washington where she serves on the Board of Directors for the Spokane AIDS Network.