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Millions of Lives Saved in Fight Against AIDS, TB, Malaria

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria said Thursday that 5.7 million lives have been saved during the decade due to its financing of programs in more than 140 developing countries.

In 2000, when the Global Fund was created, life-saving medicines for HIV were largely unavailable to people in developing countries.

Global Fund Executive Director Michel Kazatchkine says that since then, spectacular progress has been made and several countries are on track to achieve three of the eight of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals.

He says 5.3 million people have access to AIDS treatment in the developing world and that of these patients, 2.8 million are receiving treatment through the Global Fund Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

"If the effort is sustained, by 2015, we should be able to save millions of more lives with AIDS treatment," he said. "We should be able to prevent millions of new infections with prevention and we should thus be able to come close to the targets of universal coverage in access to prevention and treatment for HIV."

Kazatchkine says he believes it will be possible to virtually eliminate the transmission of HIV from mother to child. He notes remarkable progress also has been made in reducing the number of deaths from malaria because of what he calls "a triple strategy."

"The number of new cases of malaria and mortality from malaria have decreased by somewhere between 50 and 70 percent in basically the 10 most endemic countries of sub-Saharan Africa in the last three years because of a huge, wide distribution and availability of bed nets, because of the wide availability of the new drugs to treat malaria, the ACT's, and because of indoor spraying," he added.

Kazatchine says great inroads also have been made in early detection and cure rates of tuberculosis. But he acknowledges that little progress has been made in reducing the number of deaths from drug resistant strains of the disease.

The Global Fund says it will hold what it calls a "replenishment conference" early next month. The agency says it hopes to raise between $17 billion and $20 billion to fund programs to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in developing countries during the next three years.