September 10, 2014
"Good decisions always require good information, and when resources are limited, data matters even more...."
– Greg Millett, vice president and director of public policy, amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research
In August, AVAC and amfAR issued a report, Data Watch: Closing a Persistent Gap in the AIDS Response, that calls for a new approach to tracking data on the global response to AIDS. What's unique about Data Watch is that it places equal emphasis on filling the gaps in both epidemiological and expenditure information. Data has always reigned supreme in the public health world, but in their new report AVAC and amfAR pose a simple question: What happens to our quest to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030 if we don't know whether we have the funding to sustain our efforts?
Through improved data, for instance, we now know that key populations (i.e., men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, transgender people, and sex workers) represent a major share of the epidemic, largely due to such factors as stigma, discrimination, and punitive laws that continue to marginalize these populations and keep them from the care and treatment they need. With human rights abuses continuing to fuel the epidemic and impacting the health and rights of those most at-risk, targeted funding for a human rights response to HIV is critical.
But is that happening?
Sadly, no. Recent research from the Join United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)  found that less than one percent of the $18.9 billion spent on the overall HIV response in 2012 supported human rights programming.