AIDS in Africa
- "Toward a Global AIDS Fund"
New York Times (05.02.01)
"The public attention given in recent months to Africa's
AIDS crisis has not been matched with money," began the editors.
"Last year the world spent about $1 billion on AIDS in
developing countries-a sum that will not even buy adequate
prevention campaigns, much less health infrastructure, care for
AIDS orphans and necessary medicines for the sick." The editors
noted UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's speech last week at the
African AIDS summit in Nigeria, which "lays out a solid basis
for a global attack on AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria." In his
speech, Annan called for a global AIDS fund totaling $7 billion
to $10 billion a year to help stem the epidemic.
The editors projected how a global AIDS fund would be used.
"At least initially," they wrote, "a large part of the money
will go toward building a health infrastructure in the African
nations most ravaged by AIDS." The editors are encouraged that
"African leaders from 43 nations have pledged to increase their
spending on health, and especially on AIDS," which "is a welcome
sign that African leaders are taking AIDS and health issues more
But the global AIDS fund will depend on more than Africa's
commitment to improving its AIDS-fighting programs, and the
editors fear that US contributions won't be enough. "The global
AIDS fund ... is likely to be handicapped by a lack of leadership
from the United States. While Bush administration officials speak
about AIDS as a catastrophe, the president's 2002 budget adds
less than 10 percent to this year's spending for AIDS overseas....
Former President Clinton suggested to the Nigeria AIDS conference
that Washington should provide a quarter of the global AIDS fund.
President Bush's budget falls more than $1 billion short of
that," the editors concluded.
"First Rule of AIDS in Africa: Do No Harm"
Wall Street Journal (05.02.01) Holman W Jenkins, Jr
The editorial addressed the ongoing debate surrounding the
pharmaceutical industry's price reductions for AIDS drugs,
specifically for those countries in Africa ravaged by the
disease. "There is no doubt that a strictly applied drug regimen
could prolong millions of African lives, but high prices have
nothing to do with why it's not happening," insisted the author.
"If Africans and other Third Worlders are left out, it's not
because of 'corporate greed' but because there is no price at
which they would become customers for antiretroviral therapy,"
the author said, citing that several drug companies offered AIDS
drugs to African governments at or below manufacturing cost, but
"There were no takers."
The author discussed the difficulty that delivering and
managing drug treatment in Africa would present. He quoted a
recent issue of Patient Care that concurred: "'Patients need to
be told specifically about the serious consequences of
nonadherence and that treatment failure may result if even a few
doses are missed.'" The author pointed to a San Francisco
General Hospital study that found that "anything less than 95%
compliance can raise to 50% the chances of treatment failing and
a resistant virus emerging." And, "This is to say nothing of the
long-term toxicities that have emerged," which include liver
failure, kidney failure, a weakening of the bones, nausea,
diarrhea, vomiting, lactic acidosis and a skewed fat metabolism.
The author also noted how "many of the drugs come with stringent
dietary restrictions" that are much easier to adhere to in the
Western world where "patients have access to adequate nutrition
in sanitary conditions and clean water."
"Today's high prices represent not an absence of
competition but an absence of piracy," the author continued.
Drug companies have brought out 20 antiretrovirals since AZT was
introduced, he said, and such "progress doesn't come cheap." He
warned in conclusion, "This work will come to a screeching halt
if the mau-mau crowd wins the day because recovering [research
and development] costs would become impossible. And somewhere
down the road lies a drug that really would help save African
"What the World Needs Now"
POZ (05.01) Gregg Bordowitz
Leaders of the three-year-old South Africa-based Treatment
Action Campaign (TAC) have succeeded in issuing a wake-up call to
governments and pharmaceutical companies around the world. Last
July, TAC activists seized the world stage with a massive protest
before the AIDS Conference in Durban. In November, TAC led the
way to the first-ever waiver allowing importation of a generic
medication for South Africa's 4 million people with HIV. And it
was TAC's call to make HIV and opportunistic infection medicines
available to all HIV-positive South Africans that finally brought
drug companies to the negotiating table regarding price
reductions for AIDS drugs in developing countries.
At TAC's helm is 38-year-old, gay, HIV-positive activist
Zackie Achmat, who was jailed and beaten by police for his anti-
apartheid efforts in the late 1970s. In October he was arrested
and charged with illegal importation of drugs for bringing 5,000
capsules of Biozole, the Thai version of Pfizer's patented
fluconazole, into South Africa. Yet Achmat refuses to take
medications himself. Supporters have offered to purchase
antiretroviral drugs for him outright, but he has publicly
declared that he will not take any drugs unless they are
available to everyone in South Africa. "I have decided not to
take antiretrovirals because I don't want to live in a world that
devalues the lives of poor people simply because they are poor. I
could never look those people in the eye, and I couldn't lead
them, if I was taking my medicines while they were going
without," Achmat told POZ.
Achmat's pledge is a display of the kind of leadership that
could turn around the AIDS epidemic. In three short years, TAC
has not only pushed the South African government to expand HIV
drug access, it has also helped establish an activist network
among poor nations producing, procuring and distributing quality
medicines despite trade restrictions and drug industry pressure.
"It's the activism that pushed my CD4 counts up. It's the fact
that I have so many more friends now-people with and without
HIV-because they realize that we are doing something together
and we can win. Not because of the stand I've taken, but because
TAC is giving them hope," Achmat said.
"Annan Speaks About the Fight Against AIDS"
Associated Press (05.01.01) Gina Cappello
"The world has the resources to defeat this epidemic if it
really wants to," UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said of the
global AIDS epidemic Monday. "But at present, there's a lot of
confusion about how the money should be raised, where it should
be directed and who can ensure that it's well spent." Annan
addressed more than 2,000 philanthropists and business leaders at
the 52nd annual conference for the Council on Foundations, urging
public and private organizations to work together to fight the
spread of HIV and AIDS. Annan once again suggested the creation
of a global fund dedicated to the battle against HIV/AIDS and
other diseases to be brought before the June 25 special UN
session on HIV and AIDS.
"IMF Urges Countries to Contribute to AIDS Fund"
Associated Press (05.01.01) Harry Dunphy
At the conclusion of the spring meetings of the
International Monetary Fund and World Bank, finance ministers and
central bank governors announced their support for the
establishment of a global fund to combat AIDS and other diseases.
The ministers pledged there would be a substantial increase in
funds to fight AIDS and other infectious diseases in poor
countries. "What's clear now is that the commitment is growing
by leaps and bounds, particularly among finance ministers in the
industrialized countries as we saw this weekend," said Chris
Lovelace, director of World Bank's unit for health, population
- I have a new hero:
"Catholic Bishops to Fight AIDS"
South African Press Association (07.27.01)
Catholic bishops from across southern Africa gathered on
Wednesday at St. Peter's Seminary in Garsfontein, Pretoria, to
attend the Southern African Catholic Bishop's Conference (SACBC).
Bishop Reginald Cawcutt, spokesperson, said the six-day
conference was aimed at preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS. A
substantial part of the conference's discussions will focus on
the AIDS and a proposal that the church reconsider its ban on
condoms to combat the spread of disease, he said.
Almost five million South Africans are HIV-infected. Earlier
this month in the United States, Rustenburg Bishop Kevin Dowling
proposed that the church's ban on condoms be lifted, saying AIDS
was killing so many people he felt he could not duck the issue.
Dowling was supported in his proposal by the Catholic newspaper
Southern Cross, which said condoms provided one way of stemming
the AIDS pandemic. The newspaper called on the church to
reconcile its total ban on contraception with the philosophy of
the sanctity of life.
SACBC President Cardinal Wilfrid Napier said Dowling's
statement would be weighed against not only the church's
teachings, but also scientific evidence on the effectiveness of
condoms in preventing infection. The conference will also focus
on Angola, whose government the church has accused of encouraging
sexual permissiveness through a recently launched campaign to
promote condom use. The conference wraps up on Monday.
"World Education Leaders Sound Alarm over AIDS Pandemic"
Agence France Presse (07.26.01)
The AIDS pandemic has had a bigger effect on teaching than
any other profession and threatens to wipe out the trade in
Africa within 10 years, a global conference heard Thursday. "The
percentage of teachers who have died or carry the HIV virus is
higher than for most professional groups," said Fred van
Leeuwen, secretary general of Education International (EI). The
confederation of about 300 teaching unions and organizations from
155 countries is holding a conference in Thailand focusing on
teaching in the age of globalization.
Some 35-40 percent of secondary school teachers in Botswana
are infected with HIV, the EI said. "In the next 10 years, if
nothing is done, the ranks of teachers will completely disappear
in Africa," said Monique Fouiloux, EI's AIDS specialist. There
are also concerns that teachers are abusing their position to
sexually exploit children under their care, helping fuel the
transmission of the deadly disease. This year in conjunction with
other international institutions including UNESCO, EI intends to
make AIDS prevention an integral part of its education mission.
In the process, it will have to counter significant cultural
barriers that hamper frank discussion of AIDS, a problem that is
particularly severe outside the cities. "In Botswana, the only
place where it is difficult to talk about AIDS is in rural
areas," said Japhta Radibe, a representative of the Botwsana
Teachers Union. "Even before HIV/AIDS, we had a shortage of
teachers, but the pandemic has aggravated it," she said.
"AIDS Costs Kenya Heavily"
According to Kenya's National AIDS Control Council, the
nation is losing about $2.6 million daily to the HIV/AIDS
epidemic. Speaking at the Nairobi Provincial AIDS Control
Committee workshop this week, Chair Mohammed Abdullah said that
certain practices are spreading the disease and his council is
now advocating an attitude change and measures to reduce
transmission. Chris Kirubi, a council member, urged the
government to end and criminalize female genital mutilation and
blamed the practice for helping the spread of HIV/AIDS. Other
measures recommended include ending prostitution along Nairobi
streets and curbing the influx of child prostitutes. Kenya is one
of the sub-Saharan African countries hardest hit by AIDS: 1.1
million Kenyans have died of the disease since 1984, and 2.2
million others are living with HIV.