Washington - The world economic downturn is leading to massive shortfalls in funding for the fight against Aids, experts warned on Thursday.

Michel Kazatchkine - the United Nations Special Envy for HIV and Aids in Eastern Europe and Central Asia - told the International Aids Conference in Washington that he was worried.

“I am especially worried about short-term financing,” he said. “International financing is at risk.”

Since the 2008 world financial crisis, international funding for the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria has flatlined, said Kazatchkine, who for years was director of the fund.

Funding for national programmes in some cases has risen, but that is not enough, he said.

The medical group Doctors Without Borders agreed there was no room for a time out.

“The fight against HIV is a long-term commitment,” said Oliver Moldenhauer, one of the group's delegates to the conference.

“A break can have catastrophic consequences. There's no room for flexibility,” he added.

Countries less affected by the economic crisis must step in, he said.

“Germany, especially, has to increase its contributions,” Moldenhauer said. - Sapa-dpa