22 July 2009

IAS: New Evidence of Broad Benefits of HIV Investments

At the conclusion of IAS 2009, the International AIDS Society released a statement highlighting new evidence illustrating how investments in HIV have contributed to reductions in infant mortality and TB incidence, improved access to health services for women, and expanded health systems capacity.

Research presented at the conference -- as well as an IAS two-day meeting on health systems strengthening, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and the World Bank, in conjunction with IAS 2009 -- included evidence suggesting that the scaling up of HIV programmes can lead to improvements in outcomes related to other health conditions and bolster health care infrastructure overall.

As a result of investments in HIV, clinics and hospitals are being refurbished; laboratory and diagnostic capacity is being strengthened; additional cadres of health workers are being mobilized; and morale among health workers is greatly lifted.

The scale-up of HIV antiretroviral therapy over the past five years has also served as a "pressure valve" for many poor countries with high HIV seroprevalence. Previously, hospital beds and clinics in resource-poor settings were overwhelmed by AIDS patients requiring extensive management for opportunistic infections and end-of-life care. Doctors and nurses were overworked and de-motivated. AIDS care displaced other health issues from many health systems. Recent investments in HIV and the resulting declines in morbidity and mortality have freed up resources for use on other health priorities. Investments in HIV have also led to innovative improvements to expand the health workforce to meet the broader health needs of communities

"Evidence presented here in Cape Town builds on earlier studies demonstrating that targeted investments in HIV are leveraging additional benefits to maternal and child health," said IAS President Julio Montaner. "In this way, the Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 6 - to reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and combat HIV - reinforce one another and must always be pursued in tandem."

The full statement is available here.


  1. Are you saying there is evidence that some of the investments in HIV have also driven "reductions in infant mortality and TB incidence, improved access to health services for women, and expanded health systems capacity". In which countries have these occurred? Which particular pieces of research demonstrate all this?

    I'm asking because child mortality has been increasing and maternal health has been declining in Kenya since the 1980s, before HIV was even on the agenda. The MDG don't look like they are going to be met, or have you evidence to show that these claims are also mistaken?

  2. Thank for your question, Simon. The full statement issued by the IAS at the conclusion of the conference (available at the link above) gives specific examples of evidence (some presented in Cape Town) demonstrating the broader benefits of HIV investments.