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Bill Gates Emphasizes Need For Increased Efficiency In HIV Prevention, Treatment Programs

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “urged governments and health advocates Tuesday to ‘get more out of every dollar’ in the fight against AIDS, saying the global economic downturn has hit funding for the disease,” Agence France-Presse reports.

“We are facing a major challenge in terms of funding because the global economic downturn has got a lot of governments looking hard at their budgets, and some doing decreases in the kind of aid that goes for global health, and AIDS in particular,” Gates told reporters during a telephone briefing to preview his keynote speech during the upcoming International AIDS Conference-AIDS 2010 (7/13). The Kaiser Family Foundation will provide webcasts of select sessions from AIDS 2010 starting with the Opening Session LIVE at 19:30 CEST/17:30 GMT/1:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 18.

The Wall Street Journal’s “Health Blog” reports that in his speech Gates will discuss expanding prevention and treatment efforts (Hobson, 7/13). “We want to broaden treatment. The only way to do that is efficiency,” Gates said during the call, Reuters reports. Gates also discussed treatment as a form of prevention and noted that “[o]ther prevention efforts continue to be very important, like male circumcision, like pushing for behavior change, including condom use” (Fox, 7/13).

AFP writes that Gates also “called for a continued push to bring down the cost of HIV treatment and urged governments and other funders to continue to back AIDS research, one of the main goals of which he said should be to come up with a ‘significantly effective AIDS vaccine'” (7/13).

“Gates said that despite the funding challenges, he remains optimistic that recent progress won’t be lost to the recession. He estimates that while overall health-related funding has leveled off, it hasn’t dropped,” “Health Blog” writes.

“As we have scientific progress and we’re smarter about how we spend the money, we can increase the impact,” Gates said. The blog post also reports on Gates’ reaction to the recent discovery of three antibodies that work against HIV by U.S. government scientists. “In an interview Tuesday, Gates said that both developments were ‘positive and exciting’ but turning them into an efficacious vaccine will take more time that anyone can predict,” according to the blog (7/13).

In related news, the Guardian examines the Gates Foundation’s global health strategy, which the paper reports is “undergoing an internal review.” The article features interviews with several Gates Foundation employees, including CEO Jeff Raikes, as well as other global health experts, who discuss the foundation’s influence in the world of global health (Beckett, 7/12).