There's strong evidence that condoms prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS; that appropriate medicine can prevent newborns from contracting HIV/AIDS from their mothers; and that drugs can treat and slow the progression of the disease (though not cure it).
But not every charity working on HIV/AIDS is having impact and doing so cost-effectively. For example:
- Many charities focus on education about safe sexual practices. Successfully changing behavior in another culture cannot be assumed; donors should look for affirmative evidence that behavior has changed.
- Appropriate drug treatments can be complex, and donors should seek affirmative evidence that they're applied correctly.
- Programs vary widely in cost-effectiveness. We estimate that under certain conditions $150-$300 can prevent a mother from transmitting the virus to her newborn, and $500-$2,240 spent on condom distribution and prevention can result in one case of HIV averted. Treatment can cost $550/year to slow the progression of (not cure) the disease.