Bill and Melinda Gates: We Need to Put the Power of HIV Prevention in the Hands of Women

Geschrieben am 14-08-2006

Toronto (ots/PRNewswire) -

- Joint Keynote at AIDS Conference Highlights Need to Accelerate
Research on New HIV Prevention Tools - Especially Microbicides - to
Empower Women

Bill and Melinda Gates today called upon world leaders to "put the
power to prevent HIV in the hands of women" by accelerating the
search for microbicides and other new HIV prevention tools. Bill
Gates said he thought the discovery of an effective microbicide or
oral prevention drug to reduce HIV transmission could be "the next
big breakthrough in the fight against AIDS." They also called for
increased global access to HIV prevention and treatment, and greater
advocacy to break the stigma of AIDS.

Mr. and Mrs. Gates, co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation, addressed the opening ceremony of the 16th International
AIDS Conference, a gathering of more than 24,000 scientists,
advocates, and health workers from around the world.

Bill Gates said there is "a new sense of optimism" in Africa
because "the world is doing far more than ever before to fight AIDS."
He commended the progress of initiatives such as the Global Fund to
Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, which he called "a fantastic vehicle for
scaling up the treatments and preventive tools we have today." Last
week, the Gates Foundation pledged US$500 million to the Global Fund,
and encouraged other donors to step up their contributions.

Noting that "stopping AIDS" is the Gates Foundation's "top
priority," Mr. Gates emphasized that "we have to do a much better job
on prevention" to avert millions of new HIV infections and keep pace
with the rapidly-growing demand for treatment. "Treatment without
prevention is simply unsustainable," he said.

Melinda Gates reinforced the importance of increasing access to
effective HIV prevention. "We need to be much more aggressive about
getting all of today's prevention tools to everyone who needs them,"
she said. "Today, fewer than one in five of the people at greatest
risk of HIV infection have access to proven approaches like condoms,
clean needles, education, and testing. That's a big reason why we
have more than four million new infections every year."

HIV Prevention Research an "Urgent Priority"

Bill Gates said it should be an "urgent priority" to accelerate
research on promising new HIV prevention methods, and that he hoped
that the discovery and development of an effective microbicide or
oral prevention drug could "mark a turning point in the epidemic."
The Gates Foundation has provided significant funding to support
research on new HIV prevention tools, including US$287 million
announced last month to advance HIV vaccine development.

"We need tools that will allow women to protect themselves," said
Mr. Gates. "This is true whether the woman is a faithful married
mother of small children, or a sex worker trying to scrape out a
living in a slum. No matter where she lives, who she is, or what she
does -- a woman should never need her partner's permission to save
her own life."

Mr. Gates also said that the pace of research on new HIV
prevention methods has not been fast enough, given the urgent need.

"While there is promising research to report, the world, in my
view, has not done nearly enough to discover these new tools," he
said. "All of us who care about this issue should have focused more
attention on these tools, funded more research, and worked harder to
overcome the obstacles that make it difficult to run clinical trials.
Now we need to make up for lost time."

Melinda Gates noted that "we all have a role to play" in advancing
the development of new HIV prevention tools. For example:

- Governments can increase funding for research and development
- Pharmaceutical companies can devote more time, energy, and funding to
research and development on HIV prevention, and share their compounds
and technologies with prevention researchers
- AIDS advocates can push for more HIV prevention research and for rapid
access to effective prevention approaches
- Researchers can conduct studies more quickly by developing novel trial
designs and finding more efficient ways to analyze data
- WHO, UNAIDS, and other major organizations can develop shared ethical
standards for clinical trials

Advocacy, Leadership Needed to End AIDS Stigma

Melinda Gates also called for more aggressive advocacy and
stronger leadership to break the "cruel" stigma associated with
HIV/AIDS and at-risk groups, which has made the disease "much harder
to fight."

"When Bill and I visit other countries, we are enthusiastically
accompanied by government officials on all our stops -- until we go
meet with sex workers," said Mrs. Gates. "At that point, it can
become too politically difficult to stay with us, and our official
hosts often leave."

"That is senseless," she continued. "People involved in sex work
are crucial allies in the fight to end AIDS. We should be reaching
out to them, enlisting them in our efforts, helping them protect
themselves from infection, and keeping them from passing the virus
along to others."

Bill and Melinda Gates to Join Conference Sessions

The International AIDS Conference runs through August 18. On
Monday, August 14, Bill Gates will participate in a moderated
discussion with President Bill Clinton on critical priorities for
fighting AIDS (10:45 am - 12:00 pm ET) and Melinda Gates will
participate in a panel discussion on women and AIDS (12:45 - 1:45 pm
ET). Both events will take place in the Metro Toronto Convention
Centre, South Building, Session Room 1, and will be webcast live at

Experts to Release Report on Accelerating HIV Prevention Research

On Tuesday, August 15, the Global HIV Prevention Working Group --
a panel of 50 leading AIDS experts convened by the Bill & Melinda
Gates Foundation and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation -- will
release a major new report on action needed to advance HIV prevention
research and ensure access to future prevention tools. The report,
New Approaches to HIV Prevention: Accelerating Research and Ensuring
Future Access, will be available at www.kff.org and

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation works to reduce inequities and improve lives
around the world. In developing countries, it focuses on improving
health, reducing extreme poverty, and increasing access to technology
in public libraries. In the United States, the foundation seeks to
ensure that all people have access to a great education and to
technology in public libraries. In its local region, it focuses on
improving the lives of low-income families. Based in Seattle, the
foundation is led by CEO Patty Stonesifer and Co-Chairs William H.
Gates Sr., Bill Gates, and Melinda French Gates.

On the Internet:

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, www.gatesfoundation.org

International AIDS Conference, www.aids2006.org

Web site: http://www.gatesfoundation.org

ots Originaltext: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Im Internet recherchierbar: http://www.presseportal.de

Andrew Shih, +1-212-584-5012, media@gatesfoundation.org, for Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation


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