ONE Policy Pitch: Looking Ahead to the Beginning of the End of AIDS

2011 marks 30 years since the first cases of AIDS were documented and the world has made incredible progress in its efforts to understand, prevent and treat this pandemic. AIDS used to be a ready death sentence, but by the end of 2011 more than 8 million people were on life-saving antiretroviral treatment, up from just 100,000 in 2003. Technology now makes it possible to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother-to-child in as many as 98% of cases. The rate of new HIV infections can be drastically reduced with a combination of existing and new technologies. Leaders from across the aisle and from around the world have demonstrated political and financial will to fight this disease.

Yet there is much work to be done. There are still nearly 6 million HIV-positive people in need of treatment in low- and middle-income countries. More than 330,000 infants and children are infected with HIV each year. New HIV infections still outpace the number of people added on to treatment. Funding for AIDS has leveled off.  Now more than ever, we must recommit ourselves to the fight against HIV and to achieving specific, measurable goals that will help us bend the curve of this pandemic:

1.    Virtually eliminate mother-to-child transmission (MTCT): an AIDS Free Generation by 2015

  • Design national MTCT plans by July of 2012 for the 22 countries that account for 90% of the new child HIV infections. These plans should outline country-specific goals, strategies, and associated costs for eliminating MTCT by 2015.
  • Fill an estimated $2.5 billion gap for MTCT with commitments from donors, African governments, and the private sector by the end of 2015.

2.    Accelerate access to treatment: 15 million people on ARVs by 2015 (15×15)

  • Scale up the pace of treatment initiation. Last year, we added 1.4 million people onto treatment in low and middle income countries, but we need to add even more people each year to reach 15 million people by 2015.
  • Scale up the resources for AIDS treatment with commitments from donors, African governments, and the private sector.

3.    Implement innovative prevention techniques to stop new infections

  • Support existing and new prevention strategies, including male circumcision, earlier treatment initiation, microbicides, and pre-exposure prophylaxis.
  • Strengthen planning for prevention programs so that they are better tailored to local populations and epidemiology

Though these goals are ambitious, they are all measurable and achievable. Critically, to bend the curve of the AIDS pandemic, they cannot be achieved in isolation from one another or by only a handful of donors. Only when achieved in parallel—through the broad support of donors, African governments, organizations, and the private sector—will the beginning of the end of AIDS as a pandemic be real.

To read ONE’s full policy pitch, click here.