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The Cost of Ignoring the Global HIV Epidemic Is Staggering

HIV Cost

The HIV epidemic has cost the global economy over half a trillion dollars so far in the 21st century.

A new study to analyze the long-term cost and impact of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic revealed that over half a trillion dollars has been spent fighting the disease since the millennium began. And you guessed it: The total amount of damage has a lot of zeros.

Between 2000 and 2015, a total of $562.6 billion was spent on overall care, treatment and prevention. The annual cost peaked in 2013 with $49.7 billion in spending.

The new study, “Spending on health and HIV/AIDS: domestic health spending and development assistance in 188 countries, 1995–2015” was published on April 17 in The Lancet. Funding for the study was provided by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

According to the study, in low income nations, an entire year’s worth of health spending amounted to only $100 per person annually, while in high-income nations, health spending is over $5,000 per person.

It’s a burden that all of us have to bear, whether we are HIV positive or negative, as it affects the world economy. “For more than 50 years, health spending has increased steadily, in many cases outpacing economic growth,” researchers wrote. “As health spending grows as a share of the global economy, it is essential to know how spending on health is distributed among diseases and how national health spending differs.”

A total of 256 researchers from 63 countries contributed to the study. 5385 datapoints about HIV/AIDS spending from online databases, country reports, and proposals submitted to multilateral organizations were extracted and. A truly scientific process called “spatiotemporal Gaussian process regression” was used to generate the most accurate estimates available.

World governments picked up most of the tab in 2015, spending $29.8 billion, or 61 percent of the total money spend fighting HIV and AIDS. Prepaid private spending made up only $1.4 billion in 2015. Development assistance for health (DAH), funding from high-income nations to assist lower-income nations, made up 0.5 percent of total health spending globally in 2015.

Assistance in high-income nations supporting low-income nations for health care made up 0.5 percent of total health spending worldwide in 2015.

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to the largest HIV-positive population with 24.4 million in 2015, yet it depended on assistance from high-income nations the most. South Asia was also highly dependent on assistance from wealthier nations. Developmental assistance for health accounted for 64 percent of all HIV/AIDS spending in the area.

"This research is an important initial step toward global disease-specific resource tracking, which makes new, policy-relevant analyses possible, including understanding the drivers of health spending growth," Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington told Medical Xpress."We are quantifying spending gaps and evaluating the impact of expenditures."

The disparities go beyond the scope of HIV and AIDS. In 2015, High-income nations accounted for 66 percent of overall health spending on all illnesses, or 6.5 trillion of the 9.7 trillion that made up all health spending worldwide.

Although studies on the scope of health spending have been conducted before, this study’s organizers added four more countries to the previous list to bring it to 188 countries. The data makes it possible to gauge the overall fiscal impact that the disease has wrought upon the world as a whole, since the year 2000.







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Benjamin M. Adams