AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is calling for leading global organizations in the fight against HIV/AIDS to focus on data quality to ensure we know the true challenges that lie ahead and to safeguard precious resources dedicated to ending the epidemic from being squandered due to inaccurate figures.
Few aspects of the global AIDS response are more important than the availability of accurate data. Without it, estimates for funding will be incorrect, appropriate resource allocations cannot be determined and strategic targets will not be achieved.
Even though key agencies in the AIDS response are beginning to address the vast information gap, more attention and focus must be placed on data quality if we are to stand a chance at defeating HIV/AIDS globally.
“Accurate data is the bedrock on which planning for the future of the HIV response is based,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “When we’re in the midst of a funding crisis for the epidemic, the last thing we need are erroneous numbers. We applaud PEPFAR, UNAIDS, the Global Fund and others for initiating assessments to determine accurate HIV/AIDS-related data, but precious time has been lost over recent years. We must know exactly where the need is greatest to get care and treatment to those who need it most.”
In addition to assessments conducted by agencies, individual countries must also do their part to ensure accurate data is collected. Nations that have historically been reluctant to allow independent audits should encourage a truthful accounting of the impact of HIV in their countries.
“There are data quality issues across the board with several health institutes and countries,” said Loretta Wong, Senior Director of Global Advocacy and Policy for AHF. “There are problems ranging from inaccurate data that has been reported in the past, to cases of data fraud that only serve to undermine the entire global AIDS response. Accurate information and statistics are an absolute must if we are to set realistic targets and get critical resources to the most high-risk areas around the world,” added Ms. Wong, who is also a member of the Developing Country NGO Delegation to the Global Fund Board.
AHF has been calling for increased attention to be placed on data quality for several years. Through working with partners throughout the world, internal audits of its own country programs have proven to be successful in determining the best future courses of action. Now that the international community is finally seeking accurate information through their own audits and assessments, AHF urges them to continue unabated.