Bill Gates: World Has Historic Opportunity to 'Change the Face of AIDS'

By Bill Melinda Gates Foundation, PRNE
Sunday, July 18, 2010

In Keynote Speech to AIDS Conference, Gates Outlines Roadmap to Reduce Annual New HIV Infections 90% by 2031

VIENNA, July 19, 2010 - Speaking to the 18th International AIDS Conference today, Bill Gates
called on all countries to keep up the fight against HIV/AIDS, saying the
world has an historic opportunity to "change the face of AIDS." Mr. Gates
said current efforts to treat people with HIV are saving millions of lives,
and urged a renewed focus on reducing annual new HIV infections up to 90% by
2031, the year that will mark 50 years of the AIDS epidemic.

"The past few years of AIDS tell a story of remarkable progress," Mr.
Gates said today, noting that more than 5 million people currently receive
antiretroviral treatment for the disease, a 12-fold increase in just six
years. "By bringing attention to HIV, we have also awakened the world to
other health problems of the poor, like malaria and tuberculosis, where we
are seeing phenomenal success."

But Mr. Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, stressed
that future progress against AIDS depends on aggressively preventing new HIV
infections: "We can drive down the number of new HIV infections dramatically
and start writing the story of the end of AIDS."

While new HIV infections are already on the decline - the number of
annual new infections dropped 17% from 2001 to 2008, according to UNAIDS -
the pace of decline is not fast enough to have a significant impact on the
course of the epidemic, Mr. Gates said. Today, for every two people with HIV
who gain access to treatment, another five people become newly infected.

Gates Calls for 'Getting the Most from Every AIDS Dollar'

Mr. Gates said today that while new funding is critical for achieving
further progress on AIDS, the world also needs "a new focus on efficiency in
AIDS funding in prevention and treatment."

"We have to be honest with ourselves: We can't keep spending AIDS
resources in exactly the same way we do today," Mr. Gates said. "As we
continue to advocate for more funding, we also need to make sure we're
getting the most benefit from each dollar of AIDS funding and every ounce of

In his speech, Mr. Gates outlined key opportunities for AIDS investments
to be more cost-effective and have greater impact:

    - Rapid scale-up of the most cost-effective prevention tools:
      Mr. Gates urged much more rapid scale-up of HIV prevention tools that
      are "cheap, effective, and easy to apply." He noted that some prevention
      tools - such as male circumcision and prevention of mother-to-child
      transmission - "are so effective that in endemic countries it is more
      expensive not to pursue them." Yet in the case of male circumcision,
      while more than 41 million men in sub-Saharan Africa could benefit from
      the procedure, just 150,000 have been circumcised in the past few years.

    - Better use of data to make prevention decisions: Mr. Gates
      emphasized the need to target prevention efforts based on data showing
      where transmission rates are the highest. He urged countries that have
      cut back on prevention for high-risk groups - such as injection drug
      users - to restore funding to effective programs: "If you're afraid to
      match your prevention efforts to the populations at the highest risk,
      then you're wasting money, and that costs lives."

    - Reductions in the cost of delivering treatment: Citing new
      research that treating people with HIV reduces transmission to others,
      Mr. Gates said it is imperative to continue lowering the cost of
      treatment so more people can receive it. While the cost of HIV drugs is
      already low, the cost of delivery can be many times higher. "If we could
      limit delivery costs to no more than twice the cost of the drugs
      themselves, we could treat more than twice as many people for the same
      amount of money," Mr. Gates said.

    - Greater investment in vaccines and other breakthrough tools: Mr.
      Gates called for greater investment in promising research that could
      lead to breakthroughs in preventing HIV, including an HIV vaccine,
      pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and microbicides. Although scientists
      have reported encouraging progress toward an HIV vaccine, only three
      vaccine concepts have ever undergone clinical efficacy testing. "We need
      to speed up the development process for new prevention tools, and when
      we get results from these studies, we should be ready to act on them
      right away."

Smarter AIDS Investments Could Reduce HIV Infections 90%, New Projections

In his speech, Mr. Gates presented new modeling projections developed for
the Gates Foundation by researchers at Imperial College London that show the
dramatic impact smart AIDS investments could have by 2031.

The projections focus on two parts of Africa that illustrate different
types of HIV epidemics:

    - Rural Zimbabwe: In rural Zimbabwe, where HIV is generalized
      across a large part of the population, more than 700,000 new infections
      are projected to occur over the next two decades. Scaling up existing
      prevention tools appropriate for generalized epidemics - including male
      circumcision and antiretroviral treatment - could reduce annual new HIV
      infections in rural Zimbabwe by 38% by 2031. The addition of an
      effective vaccine, PrEP, and microbicides within this timeframe could
      cut annual new infections up to 90%.

    - Urban Benin: In urban Benin, HIV is concentrated among sex
      workers and their clients, and more than 100,000 new infections are
      projected to occur over the next two decades. Scaling up existing
      prevention tools targeted to sex workers - such as promoting condoms and
      providing treatment - could reduce annual new HIV infections in urban
      Benin by 46% by 2031. By also delivering a vaccine, PrEP, and
      microbicides to most sex workers, Benin could cut annual new infections
      up to 90%.

    Notes for editors:
    - A webcast of Bill Gates' speech will be available at (the live webcast will be archived for later

    - Broadcast-quality footage and other materials are available at

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: Guided by the belief that every life has
equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people
lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on
improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out
of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that
all people - especially those with the fewest resources - have access to the
opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle,
, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H.
Gates Sr.
, under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, +1-206-709-3400, media at

will not be displayed