Ten years ago, as the international community debated how to respond to Kofi Annan’s call for a radical and new multilateral funding body for global health, sceptics questioned whether or not new money for AIDS treatment would be wasted. Africa, so the narrative went, didn’t have the wherewithal to deliver medicines to those who needed them - moreover, Africans would not be capable of sticking to a demanding treatment regime. Then there was the issue of who would pay.
Ten years on, with more than six and a half million people on life-saving treatment in lowand middle-income countries, the majority of whom are Africans, sceptics have been forced to reassess their views. Simply put, the AIDS response is rightly viewed as one of the greatest success stories in modern global public health. Over the same period, rates of new HIV infections have fallen by more than twenty percent—and 56 countries have seen a decline in new infections or stabilised their epidemics. In 2010, almost sixty percent of pregnant women living with HIV received antiretroviral therapy to prevent transmitting the virus to their child; up from just fifteen percent in 2005 (and Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland reached the goal of providing drugs to eighty percent of pregnant women living with HIV). In many countries, HIV prevalence has dropped dramatically among young people – largely due to changes in sexual behaviour.