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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid