Extra investment to fight AIDS

Over 15,000 politicians, policymakers, activists, researchers and advocates from more than 160 countries will be in Amsterdam this week for the 22nd International AIDS Conference, where they will share new research and learn from one another about better ways to combat the disease.

These insights are sorely needed. Last year 940,000 people died of AIDS-related ailments. Around the world there are almost 37 million people living with HIV/AIDS. ‘There’s been progress, but HIV continues to spread. We still haven’t managed to achieve HIV prevention on a large scale and to offer treatment to 15 million people with AIDS,’ said development minister Sigrid Kaag, speaking this evening at the opening of the conference.

The event, whose theme this year is ‘Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges’, is the world’s largest conference on health and development issues. ‘From a scientific perspective, we have all the resources we need to end HIV/AIDS by 2030,’ said Ms Kaag. ‘Now we need to keep mobilising political will, take action, and encourage cooperation.’

This year the Netherlands will spend around €430 million to better protect the sexual and reproductive rights of women, men and young people in developing countries. This money will go to support HIV prevention, contraception, sex education and care for pregnant women. ‘We also need to address social, cultural, economic and gender-based inequality, by working together and empowering the groups that are most in need of prevention and medical care,’ said the minister.

With this in mind, the government will be earmarking an additional €10 million to make HIV prevention and antiretroviral drugs more accessible to vulnerable groups, such as men who have sex with men, drug users, transgender people, young people and sex workers. Over the next few years this amount will be invested in regions where the disease is continuing to spread: Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the Middle East, and West and North Africa.