Enhanced HIV/AIDS Prevention Efforts Needed Alongside Treatment, Gates Says in Opinion Piece
Achieving the goal of universal access to treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS "hinges on dramatic improvements in prevention," Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and chair of Microsoft, writes in a London's Independent opinion piece. According to Gates, the "harsh mathematics" of the HIV/AIDS epidemic suggests that "for each person who starts getting treatment today, 10 more people will need treatment tomorrow," which has "ominous implications for the goal of universal treatment." Universal treatment today would require about $7 billion, and that figure likely will increase as HIV-positive people live longer and more HIV-positive people need treatment, Gates writes, adding that "there is simply no feasible way to fund universal treatment unless we do a much better job on prevention." According to Gates, although the ABC model of HIV prevention -- which stands for abstinence, be faithful and use condoms -- "has saved many lives," it "has its limits" because it leaves women vulnerable to HIV transmission. It is crucial to "put the power to prevent HIV in the hands of women," Gates writes, adding that research to develop microbicides and pre-exposure prophylaxis also must be accelerated. In addition, governments should prioritize funding for such research in their budgets, and drug companies should share their antiretroviral drugs with researchers who want to test their HIV prevention possibilities, Gates writes, adding that individuals also must continue to pressure their governments and corporations into more action in the fight against HIV/AIDS. "If individuals, corporations and governments do their part, we can accelerate the discovery of tools that will block the transmission of HIV," Gates writes, concluding that this goal "could very well be the turning point that leads to the end of AIDS" (Gates, Independent, 9/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.