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Peter Piot highlights funding challenges for AIDS

Friday, 22 July 2011 - Professor Peter Piot has called for AIDS to stay high on the political agenda during challenging and dangerous times for funding.

While significant progress has been made in tackling HIV/AIDS with the discovery of new techniques to prevent the spread of disease, people should be under no illusion that the disease will be eliminated within a few decades, according to the Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Summing up the key challenge of balancing exciting breakthroughs in science with ensuring patients benefit from them, he said there should be a focus on 'innovation of delivery and delivery of innovation'.

He presented his views on 'AIDS: The need for a long-term view' at the 6th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2011) in Rome, Italy. He reflected that given the enormous mortality and human suffering caused by the AIDS epidemic, the nature of the global response to the AIDS epidemic has been framed as an emergency. Yet the ultimate duration of the emergency has rarely been discussed.

In spite of a recent decline in interest and funding for AIDS, UN member states recently adopted a 'Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS: intensifying our efforts to eliminate HIV/AIDS' with ambitious goals for the next five years. Projections from aids2031 and UNAIDS estimate that over the coming two decades, there may still be one to one and a half million new infections and one million deaths annually, with resources required to curb infections well in excess of currently available funds.

The combination of these developments, as well as the longer life expectancy of many people infected with HIV, provides a compelling argument for the need for a long term view on the AIDS response. In addition, resource constraints dictate that effective investments leading to the best possible outcomes in both the short and long term are necessary, and right now.

Professor Piot, the former head of UNAIDS, said: "Several exciting breakthroughs were announced at the conference. However, we need to be realistic - there is a long road between scientific discovery and actual benefits for people. We should not have the illusion that AIDS will be eliminated within a few decades. I think AIDS will be with us for generations."

Describing science without political commitment and money as an 'ivory tower with zero impact', he added: "Europe is in fiscal crisis so it's time to take action - we have to keep AIDS on the political agenda and make sure we are providing the best value for money and doing a better job at implementing programmes which make a difference."


To watch an interview with Peter Piot go to

AIDS: Taking a Long Term View:

For more information please contact the LSHTM press office on 020 7927 2802 or email

Source: London School of Hygiene & Tropical (LSHTM)

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