26/07/2017 06:32 SAST | Updated 26/07/2017 06:32 SAST

Trump Budget Cuts Could Drastically Affect SA's Fight Against HIV And Aids

South Africa is waiting to hear whether Donald Trump's planned budget cuts will go ahead.

Baz Ratner / Reuters
Dolutegravir pills used in the treatment of HIV are seen at the Kenyan ministry of heath offices in Nairobi, Kenya, June 27, 2017. Picture taken June 27, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

South Africa is holding its breath while the US Congress decides whether to approve President Donald Trump's proposed budget cuts to global health programmes -- cuts that, if approved, could significantly reduce support for HIV and Aids in South Africa, Business Day reported on Tuesday.

Trump's proposed 2018 budget would reportedly cut the US' contribution to the global fight against HIV and Aids by almost $1 billion.

While South Africa reportedly funds most of its HIV and Aids programmes itself, donor funding accounts for 18.5% of the HIV and Aids funds available for the 2017/2018 fiscal year, the Department of Health's deputy director general for HIV and Aids, tuberculosis and maternal and child health, Yogan Pillay told Business Day.

The US is reportedly the biggest donor to SA's HIV and Aids programmes through the President's Emergency Programme for AIDS Relief (Pepfar).

Pillay told Business Day that Pepfar has committed $483 million to South Africa for the 2017/18 financial year which ends on October 1, but what follows is unclear.

He said Trump's proposal would also threaten the funding South Africa receives through the Global Fund, which is also at risk of receiving less US funding. The Foundation for Aids Research and HIV-prevention reportedly warned that the proposed budget cuts could disrupt treatment for over 1million people, leading to nearly 150,000 Aids-related deaths.

US embassy spokesperson Cynthia Harvey told Business Day: "The Trump administration remains committed to Pepfar to not only save lives, but to also change the very course of the HIV epidemic."