A United Nations AIDS group announced Thursday that producers of generic AIDS drugs would begin making low-cost pills for African AIDS patients, with the financial backing of Bill Gates's charitable foundation.
The Gates Foundation will guarantee a minimum number of pill sales, and in turn, drug makers Mylan Laboratories and Aurobindo Pharma agreed to cap the price of treatment at $75 per patient, per year.
The reduced-price AIDS drugs will be available for purchase by public sector organizations next year, and estimates show the partnership likely will save more than $1 billion in medical costs over the next six years.
WATCH: For Africa's Poorest, Cutting-edge HIV Drugs for $75 a Year
The announcement came at a meeting of UNAIDS that focused on the eradication of the HIV virus. UNAIDS has called on countries to scale up their delivery of HIV services in a bid to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
During a meeting on the sidelines Thursday at the United Nations General Assembly, members of the UNAIDS group asked for increased political engagement and funding in order to reach its "Fast-Track" target to end AIDS.
"We have to significantly increase the number initiated on treatment each year, starting now," said South Africa's minister of health, Aaron Motsoaledi. "This means either finding additional funding or decreasing input cost, or a combination, and make our services more efficient and affordable."
In addition to the diminished price, the new fixed-dose combination of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, lamivudine and dolutegravir (TLD) should reduce the need for more expensive second- and third-line drugs.
"What we are talking about today with this life-changing announcement is about the quality of medicine, but is about equity, is about dignity, is about access to medicine as a human right," said Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS.