Skip to main content

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

By Bill Gates
December 1, 2013 -- Updated 1717 GMT (0117 HKT)
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
September 20, 2014 -- Updated 1624 GMT (0024 HKT)
John Sutter boarded a leaky oyster boat in Connecticut with a captain who can't swim as he set off to get world leaders to act on climate change
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 2322 GMT (0722 HKT)
Is ballet dying? CNN spoke with Isabella Boylston, a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, about the future of the art form.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 2147 GMT (0547 HKT)
Sally Kohn says it's time we take climate change as seriously as we do warfare in the Middle East
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Dean Obeidallah says an Oklahoma state representative's hateful remarks were rightfully condemned by religious leaders..
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1922 GMT (0322 HKT)
No matter how much planning has gone into U.S. military plans to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Arab public isn't convinced that anything will change, says Geneive Abdo
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1544 GMT (2344 HKT)
President Obama's strategy for destroying ISIS seems to depend on a volley of air strikes. That won't be enough, says Haider Mullick.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Paul Begala says Hillary Clinton has plenty of good reasons not to jump into the 2016 race now
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1501 GMT (2301 HKT)
Scotland decided to trust its 16-year-olds to vote in the biggest question in its history. Americans, in contrast, don't even trust theirs to help pick the county sheriff. Who's right?
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 0157 GMT (0957 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1547 GMT (2347 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says the foiled Australian plot shows ISIS is working diligently to taunt the U.S. and its allies.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1958 GMT (0358 HKT)
Young U.S. voters by and large just do not see the midterm elections offering legitimate choices because, in their eyes, Congress has proven to be largely ineffectual, and worse uncaring, argues John Della Volpe
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 0158 GMT (0958 HKT)
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1831 GMT (0231 HKT)
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1427 GMT (2227 HKT)
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1448 GMT (2248 HKT)
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 2315 GMT (0715 HKT)
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 0034 GMT (0834 HKT)
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1305 GMT (2105 HKT)
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1723 GMT (0123 HKT)
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
ADVERTISEMENT