The most effective method for eradicating -- rather than curbing -- AIDS would be robust, immediate funding for HIV control efforts, Canadian researchers say in a new study. Funding allocations for global anti-AIDS efforts have dramatically increased since 2000, but current plans hold most of the money in reserve and are spending it slowly.Advertisement
The study used a mathematical model for predicting either the eradication or persistence of HIV/AIDS in the world, taking into account the funds already pledged against the epidemic.
"If you're trying to quantify a disease, the general way to do it is figure out the number of infections that each person is likely to create," said Robert J. Smith, lead study author at the University of Ottawa. That will be determined by variables such as sexual behaviors, with a goal of averaging less than one transmission per person, he explained. "If, on average, [someone] infects less than one person, the disease should go away on its own," he said. "It's about finding the tipping point."
The $60 billion already committed is supposed to be spent gradually over the next 15-20 years. Smith and colleagues show that even if regional eradication were achieved, travel and immigration would sustain the epidemic. If prevention interventions could cut new HIV infections by two-fifths of current levels, HIV/AIDS could be eradicated within five years, a much shorter timeframe requiring approximately $63 billion.
"The money is coming in faster than new cases are coming in, so we have the unique chance to get ahead of the epidemic," said Smith. "This is not going to last long."
The full study, "Can We Spend Our Way Out of the AIDS Epidemic? A World Halting AIDS Model
," was published in BMC Public Health
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