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Expand HIV/AIDS Prevention Programs, Experts Stress

The battle against HIV/AIDS is becoming grimmer by the day. As many as 60 million more people around the world could be infected with HIV/AIDS by 2015 if the current prevention programmes are not expanded, experts have warned.

"We should be winning in HIV prevention," Jennifer Kates, vice president and director of HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said Friday.

But the reality is that HIV prevention groups have the tools, but not the money, to make enough of a difference, according to a new report from the Global HIV Prevention Working Group.

The working group, made up of more than 50 public health experts, clinicians, researchers and people living with HIV, previewed the report at an international conference in Rwanda two weeks ago and released it this week.

Kates said organizations fighting HIV infection now spend about $10 billion (7.4 billion) on treatment, prevention and care in developing countries around the world. They would need $22 billion (16.3 billion) by 2010 to start to decrease infection rates, and half of the money would need to be used for prevention.

With enough money to expand HIV prevention around the world, the working group estimated new HIV infections could be cut in half to 30 million by 2015.

The report estimated that current prevention work is reaching fewer than one in five people who could benefit. For example, in low- and middle-income countries in 2005, just 11 percent of HIV-infected pregnant women had access to the inexpensive anti-retroviral drugs that greatly reduce the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmissions.

In the African countries most seriously affected by AIDS, only 12 percent of men and 10 percent of women had been tested for the HIV virus and knew their status in 2005, according to UNAIDS and the World Health Organization (WHO).

"Over the past few years, there have been major increases in funding for AIDS, but we are still wel
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