Jamra primary scholl for children affected by HIV/AIDS, drugs or poverty, Senegal (c) Nell Freeman/Alliance Participants in the Photovioce project, Ecuador © Marcela Nievas for the Alliance
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The Global Fund can change the trajectory of the HIV epidemic


Aids Alliance

Yesterday’s announcement that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is to target $15 billion to effectively fight the three diseases is a welcome one. There can be little doubt that the Global Fund has, in the words of Bill Gates, “started to change the trajectory of epidemics”.

Take the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa: in 2000, only 50,000 people were receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART) and AIDS was killing a whole generation, with infection rates as high as one in three adults in some countries.  Last year by contrast, 3.2 million were receiving ART, AIDS-related deaths had dropped by a third and 14 countries had cut new infections by half.  

We now know that HIV treatment can dramatically reduce transmission of the virus and, with this knowledge and other recent scientific advances, we have a very real chance of controlling the epidemic, even ending it altogether.  Whilst $15 billion – the amount that the Global Fund estimates it will need to effectively support countries to fight HIV, TB and malaria for the next three years – may sound like a lot of money, it would mean incalculable benefits for the lives of millions and for the fight against the three infectious diseases around the world.  

The Global Fund’s new funding model aims to achieve greater impact by focusing interventions and financing for specific populations. By targeting the most vulnerable, marginalised and stigmatized groups, including people who inject drugs, sex workers and men who have sex with men, and advancing their human rights the Fund will further increase its impact.  In addition, by aligning its investments with national health strategies, it is expected that the Global Fund will also help to strengthen developing country health systems.

If Global Fund donors reach the 2014-16 target they will prevent more than one million new HIV infections each year, saving billions of dollars in care and treatment in the long term.   They will also be helping to reach more than 18 million people with antiretroviral treatment by 2016, up from eight million in 2012.

By working together over the past decade, donors, developing country governments and civil society have already shown that we can reverse HIV infection rates.  With less than 1000 days to go until the Millennium Development Goals expire, and with a new global development framework under negotiation, the Global Fund fourth replenishment pledging conference later this year is a chance for donors to build on the promises made back in 2000 and to set the world on course to defeat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in the years to come.