Richer countries may be better at providing treatment to people with HIV than their poorer counterparts, but they are often less effective at collecting the data necessary to understand and tackle infection, according to a study released on Tuesday.
By Andrew Jack in London
A report produced by Aids Accountability International highlights that higher income countries such as most European nations and the US are “worse at monitoring and/or reporting on the fundamentals of their epidemics and their responses” than lower income ones.
It said that while high income countries insisted on monitoring and reporting when they funded anti-retroviral treatment in the developing world, they failed to meet the same standards at home.
The analysis is a first attempt to assess countries’ compliance with the commitments they made to tackle and improve their response to HIV and Aids at the United Nations in 2001, and restated in 2006.
While UNAids, the UN specialist agency, collates data country by country, Aids Accountability International, a Swedish-based non-profit group advised by officials, academics and community activists, has made a first attempt to rank progress.
The organisation warns that the current data made available are inadequate to assess international progress, and calls for auditing to ensure that data provided by national governments on their policies towards HIV are independently validated.
It says far too many countries are failing to report data in line with their pledges to the UN’s “declaration of commitment on HIV/Aids”, resulting in an ability for watchdogs to monitor and evaluate progress.
It also argues that the existing 25 indicators recommended by the UN are “necessary but insufficient”, by failing to monitor issues such as the quality of implementation of policy, creating “major obstacles to holding governments accountable”.
The study’s release came on the day the Health Protection Agency launched its annual survey of HIV in the UK. This plans to boost monitoring of efforts to introduce HIV screening for patients registering with GPs in high-risk parts of the country, such as London. The policy comes against a backdrop of continued high rates of new HIV infection, with 7,734 diagnoses last year.