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Financing HIV/AIDS Prevention, Treatment Could Cost $400B-$700B Over 20 Years

A new report published by the Results for Development Institute in the Lancet “has offered governments and donors a glimpse into the future of HIV epidemics – and what it will cost to prevent and treat them. Researchers warn of hard choices ahead and a need for some countries to take more responsibility for their national programmes,” IRIN/PlusNews reports. Study authors present their “cheapest” and “ideal” scenarios for HIV/AIDS funding in the future, according to IRIN/PlusNews.

“One of the surprising things we found was that the price tag [to fund HIV programmes] could vary so significantly from as relatively little as around $400 billion to as much as about $700 billion,” said study author Robert Hecht, managing director of Results for Development. “It really shows you that countries have very different choices to make about how they scale up [HIV prevention and treatment] and the pace at which they do it,” he added. 

IRIN/PlusNews continues: “Costing four HIV prevention and treatment scenarios – including maintaining the status quo – the research estimated that without a cure or vaccine for HIV, as much as US$722 billion might be needed to tackle the virus by 2031 and that a third of this funding would need to be spent in Africa alone.”

The study also contends that new treatment guidelines released by the WHO last year “will raise treatment costs by 43 percent.” Hecht also “warned that poor countries with low prevalence rates, such as Vietnam, where HIV funding took up large proportions of health budgets, as well as high-burden, middle-income countries, such as those in southern Africa, would remain dependent on external aid – some for decades to come” (10/8).

The Guardian reports that the study authors believe “it is ‘increasingly improbable’ in tough economic times that donors and governments will find enough money to fund a rapid increase in universal access to prevention and treatment services by 2015. It is estimated that would prevent about 7 million more deaths and 14.2 million infections than if efforts continued on the present scale.”

Additionally, if funding remains at 2009 levels, HIV “infections could rise from 2.3 million a year to 3.2 million by 2031,” the study found.

The research also looks at countries “such as China, India and the Ukraine,” that could take over more of their HIV/AIDS costs and leave more donor money for lower-income countries, the Guardian reports. The report looks at other ways of efficiently using available funding. Hecht said the research shows “that we have a long, hard road ahead of us in terms of what it is going to take to combat AIDS. But there is a window of opportunity in the next couple of years. Countries can really change where they are going in terms of how many lives they save and infections they prevent” (Boseley, 10/8).

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