AIDS-Free Generation

Earlier this month in a speech to the NIH, Hillary Clinton announced that, “our efforts have helped set the stage for a historic opportunity, one that the world has today: to change the course of this pandemic and usher in an AIDS-free generation.”[1] Clinton’s vision of an AIDS-free generation is one where no child is born with HIV, that the risk of contracting HIV is significantly less that it currently is, and finally that if HIV is contracted that people have access to medications and healthcare. Although these three steps that Clinton has outlined may seem to be common sense to most people, current HIV/AIDS initiatives are not addressing all three.

Global Health Initiatives (GHIs), such as The Global Fund and PEPFAR, have operated independently to combat AIDS in the developing world. HIV/AIDS currently receives more funding than another global health issue and yet the numbers are lackluster; the New York Times announced this week that the rate of new infections has finally hit a plateau at 2.7 million per year.[2]  As World AIDS Day 2011 approaches (December 1st), it is time to look critically at the efforts being put forth to fight AIDS.

A study published in 2010 by Spicer et al. illustrates the need for coordination of GHIs to more effectively and efficiently impact the AIDS epidemic. Their analysis of the national and sub-national HIV/AIDS programs in place in seven developing countries showed that there were duplicate efforts among the various programs and a severe lack of coordination. This study illustrates the need for the global health leaders to push for the “Three Ones” principle in HIV/AIDS funding. This principle argues for “coordination of national responses to HIV/AIDS”[3] Better coordination of funding and programs for HIV/AIDS will allow the money that is raised for this global health cause to go further than it currently is; it would prevent money being spent on duplicate efforts as well as the possibility of new programs being initiated including enhanced prevention and education programs.

The coordination that the Three Ones principle promotes will also help to ensure better oversight of grants and funding given to the various initiatives that are currently in place. During these turbulent financial times in the global economy, it is essential that funding is distributed appropriately as well as properly accounted for. A coordinating regulatory body for all of the funding and programs that are in place for HIV/AIDS is the best way for us to reach the goal of an AIDS-free generation.

[1] U.S. Department of State Remarks on “Creating an AIDS-Free Generation” http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2011/11/176810.htm

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