Bill Gates: World Has Historic Opportunity to 'Change the Face of AIDS'


    


    
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<p>In Keynote Speech to AIDS Conference, Gates Outlines Roadmap to Reduce Annual New HIV Infections 90% by 2031</p>
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<p><span class="xn-location">VIENNA</span>, <span class="xn-chron">July 19</span> /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Speaking to the 18th International AIDS Conference today, <span class="xn-person">Bill Gates</span> called on all countries to keep up the fight against HIV/AIDS, saying the world has an historic opportunity to "change the face of AIDS."  <span class="xn-person">Mr. Gates</span> said current efforts to treat people with HIV are saving millions of lives, and urged a renewed focus on reducing annual new HIV infections up to 90% by 2031, the year that will mark 50 years of the AIDS epidemic.</p>
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<p>"The past few years of AIDS tell a story of remarkable progress," <span class="xn-person">Mr. Gates</span> said today, noting that more than 5 million people currently receive antiretroviral treatment for the disease, a 12-fold increase in just six years.  "By bringing attention to HIV, we have also awakened the world to other health problems of the poor, like malaria and tuberculosis, where we are seeing phenomenal success."</p>
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<p>But <span class="xn-person">Mr. Gates</span>, co-chair of the Bill & <span class="xn-person">Melinda Gates</span> Foundation, stressed that future progress against AIDS depends on aggressively preventing new HIV infections:  "We can drive down the number of new HIV infections dramatically and start writing the story of the end of AIDS."</p>
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<p>While new HIV infections are already on the decline - the number of annual new infections dropped 17% from 2001 to 2008, according to UNAIDS - the pace of decline is not fast enough to have a significant impact on the course of the epidemic, <span class="xn-person">Mr. Gates</span> said.  Today, for every two people with HIV who gain access to treatment, another five people become newly infected.</p>
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    Gates Calls for 'Getting the Most from Every AIDS Dollar'
    
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<p><span class="xn-person">Mr. Gates</span> said today that while new funding is critical for achieving further progress on AIDS, the world also needs "a new focus on efficiency in AIDS funding in prevention and treatment."</p>
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<p>"We have to be honest with ourselves:  We can't keep spending AIDS resources in exactly the same way we do today," <span class="xn-person">Mr. Gates</span> said.  "As we continue to advocate for more funding, we also need to make sure we're getting the most benefit from each dollar of AIDS funding and every ounce of effort."</p>
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<p>In his speech, <span class="xn-person">Mr. Gates</span> outlined key opportunities for AIDS investments to be more cost-effective and have greater impact:</p>
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    --  Rapid scale-up of the most cost-effective prevention tools:  Mr. Gates
        urged much more rapid scale-up of HIV prevention tools that are
"cheap,
        effective, and easy to apply."  He noted that some prevention tools -
        such as male circumcision and prevention of mother-to-child
        transmission - "are so effective that in endemic countries it is more
        expensive not to pursue them."  Yet in the case of male circumcision,
        while more than 41 million men in sub-Saharan Africa could benefit
from
        the procedure, just 150,000 have been circumcised in the past few
        years.
    --  Better use of data to make prevention decisions:  Mr. Gates emphasized
        the need to target prevention efforts based on data showing where
        transmission rates are the highest.  He urged countries that have cut
        back on prevention for high-risk groups - such as injection drug users
        - to restore funding to effective programs:  "If you're afraid to
match
        your prevention efforts to the populations at the highest risk, then
        you're wasting money, and that costs lives."
    --  Reductions in the cost of delivering treatment:  Citing new research
        that treating people with HIV reduces transmission to others, Mr.
Gates
        said it is imperative to continue lowering the cost of treatment so
        more people can receive it.  While the cost of HIV drugs is already
        low, the cost of delivery can be many times higher.  "If we could
limit
        delivery costs to no more than twice the cost of the drugs themselves,
        we could treat more than twice as many people for the same amount of
        money," Mr. Gates said.
    --  Greater investment in vaccines and other breakthrough tools:  Mr.
Gates
        called for greater investment in promising research that could lead to
        breakthroughs in preventing HIV, including an HIV vaccine,
pre-exposure
        prophylaxis (PrEP), and microbicides.  Although scientists have
        reported encouraging progress toward an HIV vaccine, only three
vaccine
        concepts have ever undergone clinical efficacy testing.  "We need to
        speed up the development process for new prevention tools, and when we
        get results from these studies, we should be ready to act on them
right
        away."
    Smarter AIDS Investments Could Reduce HIV Infections 90%, New Projections
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<p>In his speech, <span class="xn-person">Mr. Gates</span> presented new modeling projections developed for the Gates Foundation by researchers at Imperial College <span class="xn-location">London</span> that show the dramatic impact smart AIDS investments could have by 2031.</p>
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<p>The projections focus on two parts of <span class="xn-location">Africa</span> that illustrate different types of HIV epidemics:</p>
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    --  Rural Zimbabwe:  In rural Zimbabwe, where HIV is generalized across a
        large part of the population, more than 700,000 new infections are
        projected to occur over the next two decades.  Scaling up existing
        prevention tools appropriate for generalized epidemics - including
male
        circumcision and antiretroviral treatment - could reduce annual new
HIV
        infections in rural Zimbabwe by 38% by 2031.  The addition of an
        effective vaccine, PrEP, and microbicides within this timeframe could
        cut annual new infections up to 90%.
    --  Urban Benin:  In urban Benin, HIV is concentrated among sex workers
and
        their clients, and more than 100,000 new infections are projected to
        occur over the next two decades.  Scaling up existing prevention tools
        targeted to sex workers - such as promoting condoms and providing
        treatment - could reduce annual new HIV infections in urban Benin by
        46% by 2031.  By also delivering a vaccine, PrEP, and microbicides to
        most sex workers, Benin could cut annual new infections up to 90%.
    Notes for editors:
    --  A webcast of Bill Gates' speech will be available at
        http://www.kff.org/AIDS2010 (the live webcast will be archived for
        later viewing)
    --  Broadcast-quality footage and other materials are available at
        http://www.gatesfoundation.org/press-room/Pages/news-market.aspx

    
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<p>Bill & <span class="xn-person">Melinda Gates</span> Foundation:  Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & <span class="xn-person">Melinda Gates</span> Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives.  In developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty.  In the <span class="xn-location">United States</span>, it seeks to ensure that all people - especially those with the fewest resources - have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.  Based in <span class="xn-location">Seattle</span>, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO <span class="xn-person">Jeff Raikes</span> and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and <span class="xn-person">Melinda Gates</span> and <span class="xn-person">Warren Buffett</span>.</p>
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For further information: For further information: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, +1-206-709-3400, media@gatesfoundation.org Web Site: http://www.gatesfoundation.org


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