AIDS Treatment Is a Lifetime Commitment—But Who Will Pay?

“Putting people on life-saving AIDS treatment is a commitment that can span decades,” says Dr.Debrework Zewdie, Director of the World Bank’s Global HIV and AIDS Program, and the host of the treatment conference that begins this morning.

“So we can’t have the ‘here today-gone tomorrow’ problem where governments and donors put people on treatment, and then walk away from them a couple of years later and say ‘we haven’t got the money to keep this program going.’ That prospect worries me greatly.”

These costs have critical implications for the sustainability of treatment since in many developing countries, per capita health spending is less than $10 a year.

“Because the span of public and political attention is generally short, irrespective of the merits of the issue, keeping AIDS high on public agendas over the long term is a matter that warrants the closest attention…to maintain the AIDS response as a priority we need to show continual results on the ground—i.e., that the major investments made in fighting AIDS are having a commensurate effect in terms of averted infections, illness, and deaths.”

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