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HIV/AIDS Could be Halved But Cost $722 Billion by 2031

New computer model-based Lancet study gives the latest scope on the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Annual HIV infection rates could be halved by the year 2031, but expenses could reach upwards of $722 billion, researchers are announcing in tomorrow's edition of The Lancet. According to the online early edition, "The aids2031 project modelled long-term funding needs for HIV/AIDS in developing countries with a range of scenarios and substantial variation in costs: ranging from US$397 to $722 billion globally between 2009 and 2031, depending on policy choices adopted by governments and donors."

The main point the study drives home is that each country has its own unique burden depending on prevalence rates and socio-economic status and, accordingly, each country must innovate and develop its own unique response to the problem, which implies massively varying costs.

"One of the surprising things we found was that the price tag [to fund HIV programmes] could vary so significantly from as relatively little as around $400 billion to as much as about $700 billion," said lead study author Dr Robert Hecht in an interview with the UN-affiliated news service, IRIN. "It really shows you that countries have very different choices to make about how they scale up [HIV prevention and treatment] and the pace at which they do it."

We've written before about the structural causes of public health challenges—such as education, transportation, and urban planning—and the study echoes that line of thinking by suggesting that access to education and reducing violence against women will help reduce HIV rates in the long-term. But at the same time, the study suggests that waiting for such societal conditions to change may take entirely too long. So the question remains as to how aid agencies and national governments should respond—and it will be up to each individual country to decide on the best course of action, requiring an extremely tailored solution to each set of conditions.

[Top image: flickr user Jose Orsini]