2012 Annual Letter From Bill Gates

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In his most recent letter Bill Gates discusses the matter of Male Circumcision and prevention of HIV infection.

You can read the whole letter here.

Or

You can move directly to the section dealing with AIDS and the Global Fund.

In this Bill writes:

The AIDS community has three big goals:

  1. Reduce the number of people getting infected. By 2015, the goal is to cut infections to 1 million per year, which would represent a 68 percent drop from the peak a decade ago.
  2. Provide drugs for everyone who needs them, so those with AIDS can live longer and more productive lives. Last year, 1.8 million people died of AIDS.
  3. Find a cure. Although there are people working toward a cure, it is viewed as so difficult that we can’t count on ever having one.

There are many ways to tackle the first goal: reducing infection. These methods can work individually and in combination. One approach is to convince people to avoid risky behavior. Education efforts are important, and they are getting more targeted, but their impact is uncertain.

A second approach is male circumcision, which reduces HIV transmission by up to 70 percent. Funding for circumcision is finally being prioritized, since the cost is quite low and the protection is lifelong. Over 1 million men ages 15–49 have been circumcised in 14 Southern and Eastern African countries with large AIDS epidemics, but that is only 5 percent of the total number who could benefit from the procedure. Even in the ancient practice of circumcision, innovation has the potential to make a big difference. The new PrePex and Shang Ring devices simplify the procedure and make surgery unnecessary. The first studies suggest that these devices are both safe and effective. (I will keep this letter G-rated by leaving out the pictures of how the devices work.) Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, and Tanzania are starting to show leadership by getting the message out to all young men that it is important to get circumcised. Kenya has made the most progress, circumcising 70 percent of eligible men. I will be very disappointed if, by 2015, any fewer than 15 million young men have chosen to protect themselves and their partners by getting circumcised.

About Kevin Duffy

Interim Management and Consulting - Global Healthcare Development. Kevin has over ten years of senior management experience in the delivery of healthcare services in Africa and South Asia. His current focus is on the strategic development of policy, guidance, and tools to help healthcare organisations achieve sustainable impact – balancing the need to become financially sustainable, with the mission of ensuring equitable access to affordable healthcare services.
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