Tailoring National HIV Programs To Better Meet People’s Needs

“The features of the global HIV epidemic vary by country, often by community and patient, and it’s important to understand these distinctions so that we can design programs to meet people’s needs and strengthen their access to treatment and prevention,” Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. He describes how the Department of Health in South Africa’s Western Cape “is delivering health care to the thousands of people living with HIV in the townships and rural areas surrounding the city of Cape Town.” Gates discusses the program in the Western Cape in detail, noting its flexibility in tailoring treatment to each patient, efficient use of “scarce health care resources,” and focus on data collection. “[W]e still face a situation where only half of all people who could benefit from HIV treatment are actually receiving it,” he writes, concluding, “And that means we have a moral obligation to be smarter about how we organize treatment programs so that people in treatment are able to live longer and so that fewer people die for lack of access to treatment” (4/10).