Almost three decades after Aids first emerged, official confirmation came yesterday that new infections with HIV are in decline. That is welcome news. Before we celebrate, though, it is important to note that the number living with HIV is not declining, but rising thanks to the life-saving effects of anti-retroviral drugs. Yet less than half of those who need the drugs are receiving them.
So it would be a travesty to conclude that Aids was over. It is not. Both the costs of dealing with the pandemic and the effort needed to combat it are set to rise. Critics say that Aids programmes swallow a disproportionate amount of the development cash available for health and that funds should be diverted to other diseases, such as malaria. That is a counsel of despair. Funding for the health needs of the world's most vulnerable citizens is already pitifully low. The help given to Aids victims should instead set a global benchmark for tackling other conditions.