The HIV/AIDS epidemic could increase from the current 2.3 million infections per year to 3.2 million by 2031, according to the worst of four cases predicted by a mathematical model.
The best-case scenario in the study, published in The Lancet tomorrow (9 October), is that the number will drop to 1.2 million new infections a year.
Without a technological breakthrough, such as a cure or vaccine, there will be a "persisting epidemic in 2031, 50 years after the emergence of HIV/AIDS," said the aids2031 Financing Working Group, a consortium that takes a long-term approach to studying the HIV/AIDS crisis.
The group modelled long-term funding needs in the fight against HIV/AIDS in developing countries. Up to US$722 billion in funding will be needed by 2031 to control the epidemic, and one third of that will be needed in Africa.
But these costs could be lowered with certain policies, such as stopping aid to middle-income countries, which currently use around 20 per cent of AIDS funding.
These countries, which include China, India and Mexico, might fund their own programmes, the study suggested. This would leave more money for poorer countries, such as Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia, which are already starting to spend up to six per cent of their gross domestic product on controlling HIV/AIDS, according to the study.
Spending money earlier could also make enormous savings.