World Must Use Existing ‘Tools’ To Fight HIV/AIDS Until a Vaccine is Available, Melinda Gates Says
While researchers continue to develop an HIV vaccine -- "ultimately the most effective way to stop the [HIV/AIDS] epidemic for good" -- the world "must use the tools it has now to stop the epidemic from growing worse," Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, says in a Dallas Morning News opinion piece. A "significant part" of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's funds are allocated for HIV vaccine research, but Gates says such a vaccine is "years away." In the meantime, HIV/AIDS education and prevention campaigns, including making condoms available to all sexually active people, are essential, particularly for "at-risk" groups such as young people, sex workers and migrant workers, Gates says. In addition, Gates advocates programs designed to reduce vertical transmission of HIV, increase treatment of sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS and increase the availability of HIV testing and counseling. Such programs should be offered in countries with "emerging" HIV/AIDS epidemics, in addition to those "already ravaged" by HIV/AIDS, according to Gates. Gates also encourages people to volunteer at or donate to HIV/AIDS organizations or to lobby lawmakers for increased international HIV/AIDS funding. "Time and again, the world has mustered the energy and resources to deal with problems deemed important -- from the war on terrorism to the rescue of emerging economies," Gates concludes, adding, "Turning back AIDS requires the same level of commitment from all of us" (Gates, Dallas Morning News, 7/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.