The Need

The HIV Epidemic: It’s Not Over Yet.

If you believe HIV is no longer a serious global threat and that treatment is readily available for all who need it, here’s something to think about:

With 34 million people infected with HIV worldwide,1
HIV remains one of the world’s leading causes of infectious disease.

The cost is devastating in terms of death, human suffering, lowering of life expectancy by decades, orphaned children, and loss of income. The AIDS crisis is far from over – globally or domestically. The need for funding of HIV disease prevention, testing, and treatment programs has never been more urgent. Through your donations, millions of men, women and children can be saved and their quality of life greatly improved.

Take a look at just some of the facts:

  • Every day 4,700 people die of AIDS-related illness. 1,700 are children2
  • Every day 7,000 people are newly infected with HIV3
  • HIV is the 2nd biggest infectious disease killer in the world after pneumonia4
  • 60% of those infected are women (50%) and children (10%)5
  • Fewer than 5% of HIV-positive children are in treatment6
  • Over 80% of people infected with HIV are in the developing world (Africa, India, and Asia)7
  • In many African countries, life expectancy has plummeted by 20 years due to HIV8
  • Most deaths from HIV occur in countries  with the least money to spend on health care
  • Deadly infectious diseases that thrive in the HIV population – tuberculosis, influenzas, acute respiratory illnesses – now threaten world health

Why is this funding so urgently needed?

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) combining different drugs to treat HIV has become the foundation of effective HIV therapy. To effectively treat HIV, the right combinations of drugs must be used at the right dose at the right time for each particular type of HIV. Without precisely managed treatment, patients can develop resistance to the combination of drugs they’re on. If this happens, the drugs stop working, leading to serious medical setbacks and even death.  Lab tests help doctors to determine which combination of antiretroviral drugs to give an HIV patient and to monitor drug resistance. There are two tests commonly used for these purposes: CD4 cell counts and viral load tests. The viral load test is acknowledged as more reliable for measuring viral activity and disease progression.  Antiretroviral drugs have become more readily available but funding to meet the cost of and access to viral load testing has not.

What are the advantages of a Viral Load Test?

While the CD4 test is useful for seeing how the body reacts to HIV, viral load testing shows how the virus is reacting to antiretroviral therapy which:

  • Help patients live better, longer and more productive lives, by helping doctors decide when to start, stop and switch the treatment.
  • Helps doctors ensure treatment is successful, monitor adherence and avoid the spread of drug resistance.
  • Helps make better use of HIV medication, by making the ARV supplies go further, saving money in the long term.
  • Results in better patient outcomes, less unnecessary switching to expensive second line regiments (which can be 10 times more expensive) and reducing costs.
  • Leading public health policy and health care delivery institutions such as the World Health Organization, UNITAID, and Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) have advocated the use of viral load testing to help improve medical outcomes for HIV patients.

The Problem: Why we need your help.

Until recently, viral load tests have been largely available only in the wealthiest, countries because hi-tech laboratories were required to process the tests.  In poorer regions of the developing world, lack of these sophisticated healthcare resources has denied physicians access to viral load testing.  Without the diagnostic tools essential to successful treatment of HIV patients, AIDS has decimated decades of public health progress in the developing world, reducing life expectancy by twenty years in the worst affected countries. Because HIV infection suppresses the immune systems of its victims, deadly infectious diseases have gained footholds in these areas and pose significant threats to general public health. Tuberculosis is now the #1 killer of people with HIV, and virulent forms of influenza and acute respiratory illnesses also present dangerous potential for global health havoc.

Now do the math.

Think of the 34 million people with HIV as 34 million vulnerable people helpless to fight TB, H1N1 and SARS. Remember the SARS epidemic? Thanks to modern air travel, SARS took just 7 months to spread from Hong Kong to 37 different countries9. If we want to reduce these opportunistic infections associated with HIV from reaching our homes and schools, we need to act now. The best way is to address HIV directly

But the problem goes far beyond physical suffering.

According to the World Health Organization, because HIV affects mainly young children and adult breadwinners, the impact on families can be catastrophic.

  • The AIDS epidemic alone has orphaned over 8 million children10, and the losses of siblings, spouses, relatives, and loved ones reaches staggering proportions.
  • Driven into debt by lost earnings and daunting healthcare costs, families are also swept into unrelenting downward economic spirals that shred the social fabric of entire communities, often beyond repair.

What we hope to accomplish with our partners and you.

  • Since recently launching its campaign, the LZF has already signed a major supply partnership agreement with a viral load test manufacturer and is negotiating with several other HIV treatment manufacturers.
  • We've assembled a highly regarded board of directors and received broad initial support from the medical and scientific community.
  • Our goal for 2013 is to raise $6 million. This amount will help treat over 200,000 HIV patients through existing clinics and establish up to 15 new HIV treatment facilities.
  • In 2014, the goal is $15 million, which will increase treatment capacity to half a million HIV patients and fund up to 30 additional new HIV clinics.
  • The LZF initiative will continue until every patient who needs viral load testing has ongoing access to the technology. But we need your help to reach our objectives today and tomorrow.