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Bill Gates Stresses Importance Of Investment In Both HIV Treatment And Research For Vaccines, Microbicides

In a symposium session on Monday at the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., politicians and public health experts joined Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-Chair Bill Gates for a discussion about improving effectiveness and efficiency in the HIV/AIDS response, the Washington Post reports (Brown/Botelho, 7/23). “Gates … reiterated the importance for nations and donors to support research, but also expressed support for ongoing treatment initiatives in the meantime,” according to Agence France-Presse. “No one should think that we have got the tools yet. We will get the tools but only if we stay the course in terms of the scientific investments,” Gates said, AFP notes (Sheridan, 7/23). The Washington Post adds that “[t]he main one lacking is a vaccine, but also important and missing are woman-controlled means to prevent infection, such as a vaginal microbicide” (7/23).

Joining Gates in a panel discussion, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim “said that procurement methods and systems put in place in the ramp-up of AIDS programs in low-income countries [will provide] useful lessons to other government sectors, such as education,” the Washington Post notes. U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby, also on the panel, said PEPFAR has created efficiency by purchasing generic drugs and lowering shipping costs, among other things, the newspaper adds. “But at some point we will need to inject more resources. I don’t want to give the impression that we have enough,” Goosby said, according to the newspaper. Opening the session, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) spoke about U.S. investments in global AIDS programs, noting the country budgeted $6.6 billion for PEPFAR in FY 2012, the Washington Post reports. “Why can we continue to pour $100 billion a year into Afghanistan but we can’t find a quarter of that to end a global pandemic?” Kerry asked, adding, “This is precisely the moment we need to invest more, so that past investments are not lost and we don’t slide back,” the newspaper notes. Following Kerry, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) praised PEPFAR, which was begun by former President George W. Bush, saying, “To the American taxpayer, your money is going to a good cause. … This is a worthy cause for both [political] parties,” according to the newspaper (7/23).