News / Africa

Bill Gates Remains Optimistic About AIDS Fight

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

Bill Gates says in these tough economic times, more efficiency is needed in HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs.  At the same time, he says more people need to be on anti-retroviral drugs.  The billionaire philanthropist spoke Monday at the 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna.

As global economies faltered, many donor nations scaled back the size of their increases in AIDS spending.  Critics say the flatlining in funding comes at a time when great progress is being made in the epidemic.  Gates says he’s disappointed in the funding levels.

“The turbulence has driven up government deficits and many countries responded by freezing or even reducing their investments in global health.  We have to do everything we can to change that,” he says.

The Microsoft founder and co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says when it comes to HIV/AIDS, he’s still very much an optimist.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates

“This decade saw remarkable progress,” he says. “We all celebrate the five million people receiving antiretroviral treatment, up from just half-million just 6 years ago.  We all celebrate that since 2001 the rate of infection has fallen 17 percent.  It’s not enough, but it’s certainly a move in the right direction.”

Defying the odds

He says over the years, scientists, activists and those living with HIV/AIDS have defied what skeptics said could be achieved.  Now he says the skeptics doubt much progress can be made with current funding limitations.

“If we push for a new focus on efficiency, in both treatment and prevention, and we continue to innovate, to create new tools, we can drive down the number of infections dramatically and start writing the story of the end of AIDS,” he said.

Gates says, for example, that circumcision and prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV are both cheap and effective.  He says both bring an immediate cost benefit to countries’ health systems.  But Gates says he was once a doubter himself.

“I have to admit when it comes to circumcision I used to be a skeptic.  I said, yes, the studies showed that it reduces transmission by nearly 60 percent, but I was doubtful a large number of men would sign up for it.  I’m glad to say I was wrong.  Wherever there are clinics available men are volunteering to be circumcised in huge numbers - far more than I expected,” he says.

However, he says millions of men in sub-Saharan Africa are yet to benefit from the practice.

“In Russia, the epidemic is largely spread by injecting drug users.  And areas where they receive clean needles, testing and other services, the infection rate rose 15 percent over five years.  Where they didn’t, it skyrocketed 105 percent.  Clearly these services make a difference.  Yet Russia has cut the budget for them to zero and shifted the money into programs for the general population,” he said.

The right tools

Gates warns that even if everything is done with the current tools to fight HIV/AIDS, new infections would only be cut by half.

“Millions of people would continue to transmit the virus and we would not have enough money to treat everyone who needs it.  Fortunately, we don’t have to assume that in the future we’ll be limited to fighting HIV with the tools we have today,” he said.

Gates says he expects new tools to include better anti-retrovirals, microbicides and eventually a vaccine.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs