Skip to main content

Bill Gates: Where to put the smart money to end AIDS

By Bill Gates
updated 12:17 PM EST, Sun December 1, 2013
A decade ago, Mother of Mercy Hospice just outside Lusaka, Zambia, had no way to treat people with HIV. Today, it operates a pharmacy fully stocked with lifesaving HIV, TB and malaria drugs. A decade ago, Mother of Mercy Hospice just outside Lusaka, Zambia, had no way to treat people with HIV. Today, it operates a pharmacy fully stocked with lifesaving HIV, TB and malaria drugs.
HIDE CAPTION
Progress in fighting AIDS
Progress in fighting AIDS
Progress in fighting AIDS
Progress in fighting AIDS
Progress in fighting AIDS
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bill Gates: Within a decade, we have seen huge progress in the fight against AIDS
  • Gates: On World AIDS Day, let's reaffirm our commitment to ending this epidemic
  • He says we should support the Global Fund, which has helped save nearly 9 million lives
  • Gates: Global Fund Replenishment will aim to raise funding for next three years

Editor's note: Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, is co-chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This is one in a series of columns CNN Opinion is publishing in association with the Skoll World Forum on people who are finding new ways to help solve the world's biggest problems.

(CNN) -- A decade ago, over 1 million people in Zambia were living with HIV.

Only 143 of them were receiving treatment. The average cost of that treatment was more than $10,000 per year. Being infected with HIV in Zambia was akin to a death sentence.

When I visited Zambia in 2012, the picture had changed. Eighty percent of Zambians living with HIV now had access to treatment. I met Florence Daka, a mother of four, who received anti-retroviral treatment five years ago to prevent her from passing the virus to her baby while she was pregnant. Florence now takes medicine that allows her to work full time and care for her children. It costs about 50 cents per day.

View full gallery: Zambia, then and now

Bill Gates
Bill Gates

On World AIDS Day, December 1, we have an opportunity to make Florence's story a reality for more families by supporting an organization that is helping developing countries respond to three of the world's biggest health challenges -- the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Since it was founded in 2002, the Global Fund has been a leader in the world's successful response to HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. All told, its efforts have saved nearly 9 million lives.

Opinion: Wrong time to reverse course on HIV/AIDS

The Global Fund also plays a key role in helping developing countries change the course of these three epidemics.

For example, when people have early access to HIV testing and treatment, they not only save their own lives but they dramatically reduce their chances of infecting others. Moreover, a simple preventive procedure like voluntary medical male circumcision lowers a man's chance of acquiring HIV -- and potentially transmitting it to his partner -- by about 60%. Overall, effective prevention and treatment programs have helped reduce new HIV infections by a third since 2001.

That last number is crucial, because preventing new HIV infections is absolutely essential to ending AIDS. Developing a vaccine to prevent HIV remains critical, and scientific researchers are achieving exciting breakthroughs. In the meantime, we need to develop new technologies that women can use to protect themselves. Condoms are a great way to prevent the spread of HIV, but they require the cooperation of both partners.

Interactive: World AIDS Day

AIDS: How to survive a global plague
On GPS, Bono on U.S. fight against HIV
Magic Johnson on HIV/AIDS, gay son

Even if a vaccine or a revolutionary new prevention method were discovered tomorrow, our work wouldn't be over -- because they won't end AIDS if they don't reach people at risk. That is what the Global Fund has been so successful at doing for the past decade: delivering the best tools available to the people who need them most.

The Global Fund doesn't just provide money for pills and other health products. It channels its resources into training new generations of doctors, nurses, and health care workers. It helps developing countries build stronger health systems. This approach guarantees that the money donors invest in the Global Fund has a long-term impact on overall health and quality of life in dozens of countries.

Put simply: The Global Fund isn't just one of the kindest things people have ever done for each other -- it's also one of the smartest investments the world has ever made.

On Monday and Tuesday, leaders from around the world will meet in Washington for the Global Fund's fourth pledge conference, called the Global Fund Replenishment, to raise the necessary funding for the next three years.

'No longer a death sentence'

The gathering is a reminder that the Global Fund was founded by the world to address an urgent need. We still need the entire world's support to continue the incredible progress we've made.

This World AIDS Day, we need governments, private donors, NGOs, activists and leaders to reaffirm their commitment to an organization that has helped change the course of three epidemics.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Bill Gates.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 3:47 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
updated 12:50 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
updated 3:38 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 04: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell walks the sidelines prior to the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field on September 4, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Martha Pease says the NFL commissioner shouldn't be judge and jury on player wrongdoing.
updated 5:22 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
It's time for a much needed public reckoning over U.S. use of torture, argues Donald P. Gregg.
updated 12:08 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Peter Bergen says UK officials know the identity of the man who killed U.S. journalists and a British aid worker.
updated 12:20 PM EDT, Sat September 13, 2014
Joe Torre and Esta Soler say much has been achieved since a landmark anti-violence law was passed.
updated 4:55 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
David Wheeler wonders: If Scotland votes to secede, can America take its place and rejoin England?
updated 6:07 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Jane Stoever: Society must grapple with a culture in which 1 in 3 teen girls and women suffer partner violence.
updated 4:36 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking recently said the world as we know it could be obliterated instantaneously. Meg Urry says fear not.
updated 6:11 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Bill Clinton's speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president in 1992 went through 22 drafts. But he always insisted on including a call to service.
updated 6:18 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Joe Amon asks: What turns a few cases of disease into thousands?
updated 1:21 PM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Sally Kohn says bombing ISIS will worsen instability in Iraq and strengthen radical ideology in terrorist groups.
updated 1:30 PM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Analysts weigh in on the president's plans for addressing the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
updated 9:27 AM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Artist Prune Nourry's project reinterprets the terracotta warriors in an exhibition about gender preference in China.
updated 9:36 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
The Apple Watch is on its way. Jeff Yang asks: Are we ready to embrace wearables technology at last?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT