News / Africa

Rethinking HIV from an Economic Viewpoint

The RethinkHIV project gathered some of the world's top economists to consider which HIV/AIDS programs provide the best results for the money.
The RethinkHIV project gathered some of the world's top economists to consider which HIV/AIDS programs provide the best results for the money.
Joe DeCapua

Some of the world’s top economists have gotten together to take a new look at the HIV/AIDS epidemic and see whether money can be better spent. It’s called the RethinkHIV project and includes three Nobel Laureates.

The Copenhagen Consensus Center and the Rush Foundation sponsored the panel of experts, which presented its findings Wednesday in Washington to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

“It’s essentially a project to try to say, let’s spend money on HIV in the smartest possible way,” said Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center. “What we’re trying to say with some of the world’s top researchers – where can you get the most bang for your extra buck doing something about HIV in sub-Saharan Africa?”

The panel released its recommendations at a time when countries are struggling to cope with a global recession. Many, such as the United States, are cutting spending.

“We have this idea that HIV is something we fixed. And it’s true in the rich world, but it’s certainly not true in the developing world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, which has by far the most incidents of HIV,” said Lomborg.  “We have many, many good interventions where we can for very little money do a lot of good to tackle HIV.”

Why rethink HIV 30 years on?

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is now 30 years old and there have been recent advances in using antiretroviral drugs as a prevention measure. There’s also been more encouraging news about developing a vaccine, but that’s still believed to be many years away.

“We don’t actually have very good evidence for many of the things we’ve done in the past as to how much it costs compared to how many lives we save. And so what we tried to do was to get some of the world’s top economists in HIV, 31 of them in all, to look at what are the best policies. That is, where can you do the most good on HIV per dollar spent? And it’s in the rethink of the economics smartness, if you will, that we really have an edge here,” he said.

The panel’s picks

The panel of experts recommended that more money be spent on vaccine research, male circumcision programs and efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

“They listened to all the experts tell them what are the best opportunities and then they rank all these opportunities,” Lomborg said. “And what they found was the very best thing you could do in the world is really to scale up the investment in vaccine funding.”

Current investment in vaccine research totals about $900 million.

“If we spend just a hundred million dollars more per year we could improve the time when it arrives by perhaps as much as two years. That would simply mean we could help eradicate or dramatically reduce the infection in just a couple of decades,” he said.

Lomborg said it’s important to understand the epidemic from a medical point of view.

“But what we add to the conversation is an economic viewpoint because it’s not enough to be able to treat and to heal or to avoid infections. You also need to look at what are the costs and benefits because some of the things we do are very costly sand only do a little good, whereas other things are very cheap and do an amazing amount of good.”

More information can be found at www.rethinkhiv.com.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid