Gates highlights importance of funding to fight HIV/Aids

2016-07-21 10:46
Philanthropist and Microsoft founder Bill Gates speaks at the 21st International Aids Conference in Durban yesterday. Gates said one of the main obstacles in combating the disease are inadequate healthcare and funding.

Philanthropist and Microsoft founder Bill Gates speaks at the 21st International Aids Conference in Durban yesterday. Gates said one of the main obstacles in combating the disease are inadequate healthcare and funding. (AP)

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Pietermaritzburg - Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, addressed scores of media, activists and delegates on the pressing need for funding in research for HIV prevention and treatment at the International Aids Conference at the ICC on Wednesday.

Gates, along with Desmond Tutu HIV Centre representative Linda-Gail Bekker, National Aids Control Council of Kenya’s Nduku Kilonzo and Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in SA director Dr Salim Karim yesterday discussed the need for global funding in fighting the Aids epidemic in developing countries.

Gates said that in the 1980s he had not done much research on Aids as he had focused his energy on Microsoft in the hopes of empowering people through this channel.

He said once he realised the severity of the Aids crisis he created the foundation along with his wife Melinda, which focused on the issues surrounding Aids and TB.

“Over 12 million people are now on treatment, which is incredible, and we have seen the infection rate come down by a third so the people here who have contributed to this contributed should know that it is a success.

“Since 2010 the infection rate has come down by five percent, but with two million people now infected each year and with the infection rate in women being twice as high, there is still much more that needs to be done.”

He said people between the ages of 15 and 24 were shown to be at the most risk of infection and that global infection rates had doubled since 1990.

Gates said that by 2030 it was expected that 230 million people would be infected, which was three times the number of those infected in 1990.

“There is an incredible amount to be done in reducing infections and it appears that primary prevention is the key.”

He said donors were focusing on male circumcision as a primary prevention tool as well as the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) programme, a pill that is taken daily to reduce infection, that had been rolled out in South Africa.

“We need to make testing more accessible, and roll out self-testing as well as making the supply of treatments more accessible.”

However, he said prevention tools were not enough and that injections that could help prevent infection needed to be focused on.

“These injections should be available within the next three years but we need to speed up trials, and look at funding too.

“Unfortunately funding is lacking and it is one thing that will determine how quickly the fight on HIV/Aids will progress.

“There is amazing research being done but we need to enhance the ability to do more.

“There are fantastic new ideas that could revolutionise treatment, like the vaccines and the vaginal rings, however these will not materialise if there is no investment in these projects.”

Read more on:    aids2016  |  bill gates  |  durban  |  hiv aids  |  health

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