Fifth Day of XV International AIDS Conference Sees New Money for Global Fund, Focus on Tuberculosis
At an evening musical event hosted by former South African president Nelson Mandela, a $50 million pledge was announced from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Mandela called for others to do the same.
"It is going to take much more than the resources of the Gates Foundation to achieve the scale up required to fund the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria," he said, adding, "We need to build the public-private partnership that is the vision of the Global Fund. We challenge everyone to help fund the fund now."
Pledges to the Global Fund beyond 2004 fall far short of its projected need to fight the epidemic. In its first 30-plus months of operation, the Global Fund has committed $3 billion to programs in 128 countries. Dr. Helene Gayle is with the Gates Foundation.
"Thanks in large part to the fund, many more people in developing countries now have access to HIV prevention and care and life-saving interventions for TB and malaria than just two years ago," she said.
However, there are some concerns, namely among U.S. officials, that the Global Fund is not the most efficient way to get money to local AIDS programs.
Earlier in the day, Mandela, who battled tuberculosis while in prison during apartheid, spoke about the need to improve TB detection and get patients treated sooner.
"The world has made defeating AIDS its top priority," he said, adding, "This is a blessing, but TB remains ignored. Today we are calling on the world to recognize we can't fight AIDS unless we do much more to fight TB as well."
TB kills an estimated one-third of AIDS patients.
Finally, researchers continued on a familiar theme at the conference -- the need to give women more prevention options. Dr. Zeda Rosenberg of the International Partnership for Microbicides discussed why HIV infection rates are rising at startling rates among women.
"For women in many parts of the world, being poor, young and married are the most significant risk factors for acquiring HIV infection," she said.
In many areas of the world, women's societal status makes it impossible to for them to insist their partners use condoms or be monogamous. Microbicides, topical virus killers that women can use before intercourse, would give them power to protect themselves. But viable microbicides are at least five years from becoming reality (Jill Braden, Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/14).
Video highlights of today's conference sessions are available online from kaisernetwork.org.