AIDS in the World
- "African Health Agencies Fear U.S. Funding Ban Will Cripple
Efforts to Fight AIDS"
Philadelphia Inquirer (www.philly.com) (01/25/01); Maykuth,
The new abortion restrictions President Bush has placed on U.S.
foreign aid has many international health agencies concerned
about providing other kinds of health care, such as HIV
prevention and sexually transmitted disease (STD) screening. On
Monday, Bush reinstated a law that strictly prohibits American
foreign aid from being distributed to any organizations that
"perform or promote" abortions. Patricia Sears, of the
Washington-based Center for Development and Population
Activities, feels this curtailing of funds because of the
abortion stipulation will have broad negative effects. In India,
where abortion is legal, Sears notes that there is a health
clinic where family planning and HIV education take place on one
side--funded by the United States, European donors, and private
foundations--and abortions are performed on the other side.
According to Sears, Bush's new order would keep the AIDS
education and family planning program from receiving U.S. funds
because of its association with the abortion clinic.
"Rwanda Set to Clinch Cut-Price AIDS Drugs Deal"
Reuters (www.reuters.com) (01/25/01)
Ben Plumley, an official with UNAIDS, said Thursday that Rwanda
is very close to finalizing a deal for lower-priced AIDS drugs
with GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, and Boehringer
Ingelheim. The prices for their antiretroviral drugs will likely
be between 60 percent and 90 percent lower than those charged to
the rest of the world, similar to deals already created with
Senegal and Uganda, said Plumley. An initiative was created in
May 2000 to develop a low-price AIDS drugs system for those
countries most in need, but progress has been slow as drug
companies insist on safeguards to prevent the low cost drugs from
flowing back into Western countries and undercutting the higher
"Gates Makes Large AIDS Pledge"
Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com) (01/28/01) P. A23
As the first HIV vaccine specifically designed for Africa
awaits human clinical trials, Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates has
personally pledged $100 million towards ongoing research. His
private initiative to jumpstart the program, is a reaction to the
market failure of the past 20 years in the development of an
effective vaccine for the world's estimated 5 million
HIV-infected people. Rising to Gates' challenge to the rich and
powerful at the World Economic Forum, the first corporate sponsor
of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, online company
Yahoo, Inc., has pledged $5 million over the next three years.
"Kenya Approves AIDS Vaccine Human Trials"
Australian Broadcasting Corporation Online (www.abc.net.au)
The government of Kenya has given the final approval to begin
human clinical trials of a new HIV vaccine in Africa. Still in
the early stages, the vaccine is a joint venture of researchers
from Britain and Kenya. British human trials are underway, but
it will be five years before the vaccine is ready for use. Bill
Gates, chairman of Microsoft, has donated nearly $200 million to
bolster the clinical trial program.
"Mbeki Agrees Drug Plan for HIV Babies"
Financial Times (www.ft.com) (01/27/01); Dynes, Michael
South Africa's President Mbeki has backed down on his
previous controversial statement of refusing to believe that AIDS
is caused by HIV, and has approved a program to treat patients for
free with the expensive HIV drugs. The program would provide
drug therapy to HIV-positive pregnant women and victims of rape
in an attempt to stop the increasing number of mother-to-infant
infections. It is estimated that more than 70,000 HIV-positive
infants are born each year in South Africa. Mbeki's program will
include the use of the drug nevirapine and involved eighteen
state hospitals to provide free HIV testing for pregnant women,
medication, and infant milk. His earlier refusal of providing
free antiretroviral drugs stemmed from the cost and the side
effects, threatening legal action against anyone who provided the
drugs. Mbeki's government position on the cause of AIDS still
has not changed, but his latest move provided some hope for those
embroiled in the battle against the spread of the disease, which
has effected nearly 10 per cent of the South African population.
"Look at Brazil"
New York Times Magazine (www.nytimes.com) (01/28/01) P. 26;
AIDS in Africa will nearly destroy the continent's economy, may
cause war, and is killing millions of people each year. Such a
severe plague has not been seen since Europe's 14th century Black
Death, and it has taken 17 million lives so far--with more to
come. Meanwhile, AIDS is racing through other areas, including
India, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet
Union, among others. Until recently, the triple drug therapy
used to control AIDS was considered realistic only for the
wealthy or those in societies that could pay for the drugs for
victims. Poorer nations could only try to prevent new cases and
treat some infections. Now, however, things are changing. In
Brazil, poor AIDS patients get antiretrovirals for free, and have
since 1997. The country has built a network of AIDS clinics and
has proven that its uneducated population is quite able to take
medicine on time. Brazil's treatment program has cut in half the
AIDS death rate, prevented many new hospitalizations, reduced the
transmission rate, helped to stabilize the epidemic, and has
improved the general state of public health. The nation can
afford all the drugs because it does not pay market prices--it
copies brand-name drugs, reducing the price by an average 79
percent. Various international organizations are beginning to
help countries try to reproduce Brazil's program, and Brazil has
offered technology and training to other nations that will supply
the drugs to patients for free. Meanwhile, the drug companies
are beginning to make limited offers of cheap drugs. Other
countries can reproduce Brazil's success with international help.